r<^^\<'^ ^<;j''fr^\^ v^^V
^ .;sOT«r^,* , ** •^ '^
4 0. \xJ^
: >&' ^u
'»• /V '.
TRUE STORIES OF GREAT AMERICANS
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
HBW YORK . BOSTON • CHICAGO • DALLAS
ATLANTA • SAN FRANCISCO
MACMILLAN & CO.. Limited
LONDON . BOMBAY • CALCUTTA
THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd.
WILLIAM H. RIDEING
"MANY CELEBRITIES AND A FEW OTHERS"
'THE BOYHOOD OF FAMOUS AUTHORS," ETC.
" By broad Potomac's silent shore
Better than Trajan lowly lies,
Gilding her green declivities
With glory now and evermore.
Art to his fame no aid hath lent ;
His country is his monument."
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
All riihts rtttrvfd
By the xMACMILLAN COMPANY.
Set up and elcctrotypcd. Published October, 1916.
J. 8. Cashing Co. — Berwick <fc Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
OCT 25 1916
Washington's Boyhood i
Life in Old Virginia 15
The Young Soldier 23
Washington at Home 35
The Beginning of the War 44
Battles near Boston 54
Defeats in New York 63
Crossing the Delaware 71
Dark Days in Pennsylvania ..... 77
"An Ocean of Difficulties" 88
The End of the War 97
Arnold and Andr£ 108
Our First President . . . . . .124
Martha Washington 133
Washington's Friends 144
Washington's Enemies 158
The Indian Wars 168
Second Term as President . . . « .178
Last Days at Mount Vernon . . • .183
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
George Washington .... Frontispieu
Mount Vernon 36
Houdon's Statue of Washington .... 80
Fraunces' Tavern 104
Martha Washington 134
The Washington Monument 184
George Washington was born at Bridge's
Creek in Virginia on the 2 2d of February, 1732,
and was the fifth son of Augustine Washington,
a planter, descended from an old English family,
one of whom, his great-grandfather, came to
America in reduced circumstances in 1656 as
''second man in sayleing ye vessel to Virginia."
Not much is known of George Washington's
infancy and boyhood. His education may be said
to have been neglected ; and though possessed of
more than ordinary common sense, he had little
schooling. He was a serious sort of boy, am-
bitious, courageous, and industrious ; particularly
courageous, as he soon showed while still a mere
stripling, in games, in the hunting field, and in
Indian wars, and he was notably industrious also.
2 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Sagacity was his strongest quality and was to
serve him in various crises in his later life.
Tall, rather ^'raw-boned," earnest, acquisitive,
observant, he foreshadowed in his boyhood the
steadiness and consistency, the calmness and the
resolution of his manhood.
Much of his time was spent on the estate of
Mount Vernon on the Potomac, which he after-
wards inherited from his elder brother, Lawrence,
and there he learned the business of a planter.
Under his management Mount Vernon became
one of the finest estates in the country. The
principal crop was tobacco, as it was of all other
While his eldest brother was sent to England
to be educated and came back a scholar, George
was allowed to pick up such chance knowledge
as he could, and one of the few books he cared
for was " The Young Man's Companion," which
claimed to be a self-instructor in nearly every-
thing, a sort of encyclopedia, which taught, or
pretended to teach, how to prepare wills, deeds,
and all legal forms ; how to build houses ; how to
survey and navigate; how to doctor the sick;
how to make ink and cider ; and how to behave.
In fact, it was little more than a scrapbook.
George was always a well-behaved boy, and
WASHINGTON'S BOYHOOD 3
truthful, but the story of the cherry tree is prob-
ably one of the many inventions concerning this
period of his life.
His weakest point was his spelling, and not
even when he was grown up did he acquire correct-
ness in it. To the last he spelled lie, lye ; Latin,
latten; rifle, riffle; oil, oyle; and blue, blew. A
friend wrote of him that "his writing was defective
in grammar and even spelHng, owing to the in-
sufficiency of his early education, of which, how-
ever, he gradually got the better in the subsequent
years of his life, by the official perusal of some excel-
lent models, particularly those of Alexander Hamil-
ton ; by writing with care and persistent attention,
and reading numerous, indeed multitudes, of letters,
to and from his friends and correspondents."
And he himself was fully aware of his deficiencies.
When it was suggested to him that he should pre-
pare his autobiography, he said, "A consciousness
of a defective education and a certainty of the
want of time, unfit me for such an undertaking.''
All the more wonderful was it that he acquired
before he was middle-aged a power of expression,
always rich in simple dignity and charm, which
reminds one of the speeches and writings of Abra-
His school days ended when he was fourteen
4 GEORGE WASHINGTON
years old. He wanted to go to sea, as thousands
of other boys have done, but in this he was opposed
by his mother and by an uncle, who said in old-
fashioned phrases, "I think he had better be put
apprentice to a tinker, for a common sailor before
the mast has by no means the liberty of the sub-
ject, for they will press him from a ship where he
has fifty shillings a month, and make him take
twenty-three, and cut and slash, and use him like
a negro, or rather like a dog."
He had gathered from '^The Young Man^s
Companion '4 a smattering knowledge of survey-
ing and had taken a few lessons from a surveyor,
so he abandoned his dream of the sea, and worked
for four years at the surveyor's profession, going
into the wilderness which stretched from his home,
and becoming famiUar with the Indians who
abounded in it.
"Nothing was left half done, or done in a hur-
ried or slovenly manner," says Washington Irving.
"The habit of mind then cultivated continued
throughout; so that however compHcated his
tasks and overwhelming his cares, in the arduous
and hazardous situations in which he was often
placed, he found time to do everything, and to
do it well. He had acquired the magic of method,
which of itself works wonders."
WASHINGTON'S BOYHOOD 5
The hardships of his life as a surveyor in the
wilderness are shown in his own diary, from which
we quote a few entries:
*' Friday, March nth, 1747 : — Began my jour-
ney in company with George Fairfax, Esq., we
travelled this day forty miles, to Mr. George
Marvel's in Prince William County.
"March 12th : — Rode to his Lordship's quarters
some miles higher up the river. We went through
most beautiful groves of sugar-trees, and spent
the best part of the day in admiring the trees
and richness of the land.
"March 23d: — Rained till about two o'clock,
and then cleared up, when we were agreeably
surprised at the sight of more than thirty Indians,
coming from war with only one scalp. After
clearing a large space and making a great fire
in the middle, the men seated themselves around
it, and the speaker made a grand speech, telling
them in what manner they were to dance. After
he had finished, the best dancer jumped up, as
one awakened from sleep, and ran and jumped
about the ring in the most comical manner. He
was followed by the rest. Then began their
music which was performed with a pot half full
of water, and a deerskin stretched tight over it,
and a gourd with some shot in it to rattle, and a
6 GEORGE WASHINGTON
piece of horse's tail tied to it to make it look fine.
One person kept rattling, and another drumming
all the while they were dancing.
"April 2d: — A blowing, rainy night. Our
straw upon which we were lying took fire, but I
was luckily preserved by one of our men awakening
when it was in a flame.
"April 3d: — Last night was a much more
blustering night than the former. We had our
tent carried quite off with the wind, and were
obliged to lie the latter part of the night without
covering. There came several persons to see us
this day. One of our men shot a wild turkey.
"April 4th: — This morning Mr. Fairfax left
us with intent to go down to the mouth of the
river. We did two lots and were attended by
a great company of people — men, women and
children — that attended us through the woods
as we went, showing their antic tricks. Several
think they seem to be as ignorant a set of people
as the Indians. They would never speak English,
but when spoken to they speak all Dutch. This
day over, our tent was blown down by the violent-
ness of the wind.
"April 6th: — Last night was so intolerably
smoky that we were obliged, all hands, to leave
the tent to the mercy of the wind and fire. This
WASHINGTON'S BOYHOOD 7
day was attended by our company until about
twelve o'clock, when we finished. We travelled
down the Branch to Henry Danmetries'. On our
journey were caught in a very heavy rain ; we
got under a straw house until the worst of it was
over, and then continued our journey.
*' April 7th : — Rained excessively all last night.
This morning one of our men killed a wild turkey
that weighed twenty pounds. We went to survey
fifteen hundred acres of land, and returned to
Danmetries' about one o'clock. About two I
heard that Mr. Fairfax was come up and at Peter
Capsey's, about two miles off in the same old
field. I then took my horse and went up to see
him. We ate our dinner and walked down to
Danmetries'. We stayed about two hours, and
walked back again and slept in Capsey's house,
which was the first night I had slept in a house
since I came to the Branch.
"April 8th: — We camped in the woods, and
after we had pitched our tent and made a large
fire we pulled out our knapsack to recruit our-
selves. Every one was his own cook. Our spits
were forked sticks; our plates were large chips.
As for dishes we had none."
In a letter to a friend he wrote: "Since
you received my letter of October last I have not
8 GEORGE WASHINGTON
slept above three or four nights in a bed, but,
after walking a good deal all the day, I have lain
down before the fire upon a little hay, straw, fodder,
or a bearskin, whichever was to be had, with man,
wife, and children, like dogs and cats ; and happy
is he who gets the berth nearest the fire. Nothing
would make it pass off tolerably but a good reward.
A doubloon is my constant gain every day that
the weather will permit of my going out, and some-
times six pistoles. The coldness of the weather
will not allow of my making a long stay, as the
lodging is rather too cold for the time of year.
I have never had my clothes off, but have lain
and slept in them, except the few nights I have
been in Frederictown."
Washington was a magnificent horseman. His
father had taken a great deal of pride in his blooded
horses, and his mother afterward took pains to
keep the stock pure. She had several young horses
that had not yet been broken, and one of them in
particular, a sorrel, was extremely spirited. No
one had been able to do anything with it, and it
was pronounced thoroughly vicious, as people
are apt to pronounce horses which they have not
learned to master. George was determined to ride
this colt, and told his companions that if they would
help him catch it, he would ride and tame it.
WASHINGTON'S BOYHOOD 9
Early in the morning they set out for the pas-
ture, where the boys managed to surround the
sorrel and then to put a bit into its mouth. Wash-
ington sprang upon its back, the boys dropped
the bridle, and away flew the angry animal. Its
rider at once began to command ; the horse resisted,
backing about the field, rearing and plunging.
The boys became thoroughly alarmed, but Wash-
ington kept his seat, never once losing his self-
control or his mastery of the colt. The struggle
was a sharp one ; when suddenly, as if determined
to rid itself of its rider, the creature leaped into
the air with a tremendous bound. It was its
last. The violence burst a blood-vessel, and the
noble horse fell dead.
Before the boys could sufficiently recover to
consider how they should extricate themselves
from the scrape, they were called to breakfast;
and the mistress of the house, knowing that they
had been in the fields, began to ask after her stock.
"Pray, young gentlemen," said she, "have
you seen my blooded colts in your rambles? I
hope they are well taken care of. My favorite,
I am told, is as large as his sire."
The boys looked at one another, and no one
liked to speak. Of course the mother repeated
lO GEORGE WASHINGTON
"The sorrel is dead, madam," said her son. "I
And then he told the whole story. They say
that his mother flushed with anger, as her son
often used to, and then, like him, controlled her-
self, and presently said, quietly : —
"It is well; but while I regret the loss of my
favorite, I rejoice in my son who always speaks the
I have borrowed this story from Mr. Horace
Scudder, who tells it in his little book on Wash-
ington. It may not be wholly true, but it is
characteristic. That is to say, it exhibits the
boy as we know he was from other circumstances.
He was strict with himself as with others, a
self -disciplinarian ; an athlete who exercised him-
self with running, leaping, wrestling, pitching
quoits, tossing ball, and fox hunting.
Lord Fairfax, an English nobleman who had
made Virginia his home, was a neighbor and a
friend, who employed him as surveyor, and gave
him the advantages of polite society, including
association with all the prettiest and most talented
young ladies in the neighborhood.
"This old nobleman," Mrs. Burton Harrison
says of Lord Fairfax, in one of her delightful essays,
"had come out to live in the Virginian wilderness
WASHINGTON'S BOYHOOD ii
in the prime of his manhood, and abandoning his
beautiful home of Leeds Castle in Kent, England,
and other estates, contented himself with ruling
over a principality of land inhabited chiefly by a
few backwoodsmen, a few scattered families, many
prowKng and bloody-minded Indians and vast
abundance of big game.
*'His lodge of Greenway Court, not far from
the present town of Winchester, was an abode
of delight to the boy Washington, who was
frequently bidden there to stay. In the dining
room of the writer of these lines hang two large
plates of old Oriental china, part of a set once
presented by Washington to Lord Fairfax on his
arrival at Greenway Court for one of these many
"From Lord Fairfax he received color and influ-
ence in many matters relating to literature, cul-
ture, and the science of diplomacy in foreign courts.
In a thousand ways their sympathies touched,
and through all the talks, when Washington stood
fast for the colonies, Lord Fairfax for the crown,
they kept their friendship intact.
"Most schoolboys know the touching story of
how the news of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis
came to the old baron, as he sat by the chimney
corner in his great lodge brooding over the trend
12 GEORGE WASHINGTON
of public events. When convinced that America
was forever free from England's rule, and, worse
than all, that it was the lad he had helped to train
to whom the British commander at York town had
surrendered an army, he at first said nothing.
After a while he turned to Black Joe, his body-serv-
ant, exclaiming plaintively : —
"'Take me to my bed, Joe ! It is time for me
Washington's father was already dead, and his
older brother, Lawrence, took the father's place,
and played it well.
His mother Hved nearly as long as George him-
self, and to her he was invariably a devoted son.
In writing to her he always addressed her as
'' Respected Madam," and signed himself "Your
He adopted, as a guide to conduct, "Rules for
Behavior" which are worth quoting and worth
learning : —
"Every action in company ought to be with some
sign of respect to those present.
"In the presence of others sing not to yourself
with humming noise, nor drum with your fingers
"Be not a flatterer, neither play with any one
that delights not to be played with.
WASHINGTON'S BOYHOOD 13
"Let your countenance be pleasant, but in
serious matters somewhat grave.
'^Show not yourself glad of the misfortune of
another though he were your enemy.
"Let your discourse with men of business be
short and comprehensive.
"Wherein you reprove another, be unblamable
yourself; for example is more prevalent than
"Let your conversation be without malice or
envy, for it is a sign of a tractable and commend-
able nature; and in all causes of passion, admit
reason to govern.
"Be not forward, but friendly and courteous;
the first to salute, hear and answer; and be not
pensive when it is time to converse.
"Detract not from others, neither be excessive
"Associate yourself with men of good quality,
if you esteem your own reputation, for it is better
to be alone than in bad company.
"In disputes, be not so desirous to overcome,
as not to give liberty to each one to deliver his
opinion ; and submit to the judgment of the major
part, especially if they are judges of the dispute.
"Play not the peacock, looking everywhere
about you to see if you be well decked, if your
14 GEORGE WASHINGTON
shoes fit well, if your stockings set neatly, and your
''Think before you speak; pronounce not im-
perfectly, nor bring out your words too hastily,
but orderly and distinctly.
"Undertake not what you cannot perform, but
be careful to keep your promise.
"Let your recreations be manful, not sinful.
"Labor to keep alive in your breast that little
spark of celestial fire called Conscience."
Life in Old Virginia
We must remember that at this time America
was a very different country from what it is to-day.
The United States were not yet on the map.
Instead of the forty-eight states we have now
there were but thirteen, and the population of
the whole country was nearly three million fewer
than the population of the City of New York
alone is now. There were no great cities, no rail-
ways, no telegraphs or telephones, no steamers,
no electric or gas lights. Towns were far apart
and small; the plains and prairies had not been
explored ; the Indians roamed in the primeval
forests, a constant terror to the settlers.
" Of the inventions and discoveries which abridge
distance, which annihilate time, which extend
commerce, which aid agriculture, which save labor,
which transmit speech, which turn the darkness
of night into the brilliance of day, which alleviate
pain, which destroy disease, which lighten even
the infirmities of age, not one existed."
l6 GEORGE WASPIINGTON
A narrow line of towns and villages extended,
with many breaks, along the coast from the prov-
ince of Maine to Georgia. The fishermen's
cottages were built of roughhewn logs and thatched
with seaweed. The valleys of the Mohawk and
the Genesee were the hunting grounds of the
Oneida Indians, the Mohawks, and the Cayugas.
Daniel Boone was fighting the Cherokees in the
canebrakes of Kentucky.
As late as 1795 Cincinnati consisted of ninety-
five log cabins and five hundred persons.
Occasionally a trapper appeared on the frontier,
who told of the mysterious plains beyond, where
the grass grew higher than his waist, where flowers
were more beautiful than in the best kept garden,
and where the Indians looked on the white man
as a god or a devil.
Most of the furniture in the houses was imported
from England and was of a simple and solid kind.
The homes themselves often had a mean appear-
ance, and were neither sanitary nor comfortable.
Light was derived from homemade candles, heat
from cavernous open fireplaces and logs. There
were no carpets or rugs on the floors. Food and
clothing of the average family were both frugal
A well-to-do father of to-day, says John Bach
LIFE IN OLD VIRGINIA 17
McMaster, the historian, spends every year on
his family as much as would have in those days
defrayed the public expenses of a flourishing village ;
schoolmaster, constable, and highways included.
Children at school had a hard time too. Indeed,
the teacher who in our day subjected his pupils
to the rigid discipline, to the hard fare, to the
sermons, the prayers, and the floggings which
then fell to the lot of the schoolboy, would be
held up by the press to universal execration, and
might count himself fortunate if he escaped with-
out a prosecution by a society for the prevention
of cruelty to children, for schoolmasters knew of
no way of imparting knowledge but by the rod.
But schools were few, and sometimes to reach
them children had to walk for miles through
regions infested with wolves and bears.
People traveled afoot, on horseback, in private
carriages or in public coaches. The trip between
New York and Philadelphia, which by train
now takes two hours, then took by stage coach
three days ! Any man who had been in Europe
was pointed at in the city streets. He had to
travel, of course, in a sailing ship, and the voyage
often took three months instead of five days,
which the Mauretania takes now.
Virginia was better off than New England, and
i8 GEORGE WASHINGTON
its rich planters lived in greater luxury. They
found much difficulty in getting enough servants
to work their estates, and slaves from Africa
were introduced. That was the beginning of
slavery in this country, and though Washington
was disposed to get rid of it, he, Hke all his
neighbors, acquiesced in what was regarded as a
He never in his life bought or sold a slave ; those
he had he inherited. His position is stated by
Senator Henry Cabot Lodge as follows: ''Wash-
ington accepted the condition as he found it, as
most men accept the social arrangement to which
they are born. He grew up in a world where
slavery had always existed, and where its rightful-
ness had never been questioned. Humane by
nature, he conceived a great interest and a great
pity for those helpless beings, and treated them
with kindness and forethought. In a word, he
was a kind and good master, as well as a success-
ful one, and the condition of his slaves was as
happy, and their labors as profitable, as was pos-
sible to such a system . . . Washington became
convinced that the whole system was thoroughly
bad, as well as utterly repugnant to the ideas
upon which the revolution was fought and the
government of the United States founded.
LIFE IN OLD VIRGINIA 19
"When he died he did all that lay in his power
to impress his views upon his countrymen by
directing that his slaves should be set free on the
death of his wife. His opinions were those of a
humane man impatient of wrong, and of a noble
and farseeing statesman, watchful of the evils
that threatened his country."
Until long after the year 1732, the people of
Virginia reckoned the cost of things, not by pounds,
shillings, and pence — the English currency —
but by pounds of tobacco — the Virginia currency.
The salaries of the clergy were paid in tobacco,
as were the fees for christening, marrying, and
burying. Taxes were paid and accounts kept in
You could easily mistake for a village the
groups of buildings on one plantation. When
you looked closer you would find no church, shop,
or schoolhouse, only the buildings of the planta-
tion, the house of the planter, the tobacco house,
in which the tobacco was drying, and the; cabins
of the negroes, low wooden huts, the chinks in
the walls filled with clay.
The tobacco crop was uncertain, now good, now
bad, and the planter was never sure of his income,
so he became reckless and was often in debt. He
usually was extravagant and entertained lavishly.
20 GEORGE WASHINGTON
inviting any stranger at the inn to his house and
keeping him there for days or weeks.
He seldom traveled, except to the little capital,
Williamsburg, when the House of Burgesses was
in session there. Then he got out his great yellow
coach and drove in state with his family through
the rough roads and the woods, meeting other
planters and their wives and daughters going in
the same direction. At the capital there were
balls and dinners, all the ceremonies of society,
and much talk of politics. They had good times,
and then returned in high spirits to their home,
where the mother would take up again the exact-
ing round of her duties.
Her hands were always full; she could not
escape her thousand and one duties. Having
no shops near, she had to provide herself in ad-
vance with all household necessaries. Often she
taught her children, for no school was near. She
had to supervise and train her numerous servants,
setting one to sewing, another to mending, another
to weaving. Most of the garments and all the
fabrics used by the family and the servants were
homemade, and the mistress also nursed and pre-
scribed for all who were ill.
A lady who visited such a home and such a
mistress thus describes her: *'0n one side sits
LIFE IN OLD VIRGINIA 21
the chambermaid with her knitting; on the
other, a Httle colored pet learning to sew; an old
decent woman is there with her table and shears,
cutting out the negroes' winter clothes ; while
the old lady directs them all, incessantly knitting
herself. She points out to me several pairs
of nice, colored stockings and gloves she has
just finished, and presents me with a pair half
done, which she begs I will finish and wear for
In their mansion, the Washingtons lived with
some luxury and not a little state. They were
counted as aristocrats by their neighbors, and wel-
comed by the splendid Fairfaxes, who stood highest
in the social scale. King George of England still
reigned over the country, and the states of the
future were but English colonies with a loosening
attachment to the English crown. Virginia was
prosperous, but the country was undeveloped
and its richness only dimly surmised.
We catch glimpses of our George at smart
assemblies, fond of dancing, fond of the pretty
girls, and fond of fine raiment. He was in fact
something of a dandy, sending to London for his
clothes. On one occasion he orders six pairs of
the "very neatest shoes," one ''suit of the finest
cloth and fashionable color," "three gold and
22 GEORGE WASHINGTON
scarlet sword knots," and "one fashionable gold-
"Whatever goods you may send me, let them
be neat and good of their several kinds," he wrote
to his London tailor.
But he was no idler or trifler. He studied hard
and was methodic in all he did. At a very early
age he kept accounts of his expenditures and of.
how he spent his time, in order to check waste in
both. He was, as we have said, fully conscious
of his deficiency in education, and sought to make
up for it in all possible ways, especially in the
study of mathematics. To this day the surveys
he made for Lord Fairfax and others are consid-
ered good and valid.
Now, however, he was to give up surveying and
to enter on that military career in which he was
soon to become famous.
The Young Soldier
Washington was born with an hereditary taste
for soldiering; many of his ancestors had fought
for England, and his brother Lawrence served
in the West Indies under that Admiral Vernon
whose name was afterwards given to the estate
in Virginia. Irving says that "all his amuse-
ments took a military turn. He made soldiers
of his schoolmates. They had their mimic
parades, reviews, and sham fights. A boy named
William Bustle was sometimes his competitor,
but George was commander-in-chief of the school."
The French were in possession of Canada, and
were scheming to take away from the English
large parts of their land, claiming all the country
between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi.
They sent expeditions from Canada to the southern
shores of Lake Erie, and from the South, and
established forts at Presque Isle, where the city
of Erie now stands, and at Venango on the Alle-
24 GEORGE WASHINGTON
gheny River. They were also enlisting the Indians
to fight for them.
Then it was that Washington, only twenty-one
years old, was appointed as an emissary to them
with the rank of major, and he set forth into the
wilderness to meet the ChevaHer St. Pierre, the
French commandant. His footsteps were dogged
by hostile Indians, and more than once he was
almost ambushed. So successful was he that he
at once became, as Irving says, "the rising hope
The expedition was full of peril. "For seven
hundred and fifty miles, more than half the dis-
tance through an unbroken wilderness, accom-
panied by only seven persons, he made his way
to the Ohio," says Mr. J. T. Headley. "Across
rivers and morasses, over mountains, through
fearful gorges and amid tribes of Indians, the
fearless stripling pursued his way, and at length,
after forty-one days of toil, reached, in the middle
of December, the end of his journey. Having
concluded his mission, he set out in the dead of
winter to retrace his dreary route. The horses,
after a while, gave out, and the drivers were left
to take care of them, while Washington and a
comrade named Gist rushed on alone on foot
through the wilderness. With his knapsack on
THE YOUNG SOLDIER 25
his back and his gun in his hand, he made his
way through the deep snow and over the frozen
ground, without a path to guide his footsteps or
a sound to waken the solitude, save the groaning
of trees swinging to and fro in the storm, or the
cry of some wild animal in search of prey. Travel-
ing in this manner, they came upon an Indian,
who, under the pretense of acting as guide, led
them off their route and then shot at them. Spar-
ing his life, contrary to the wishes of his friend,
Washington got rid of him, and walked all night
to escape pursuit.
"Coming to the Allegheny River, they found it
only partly frozen over, and here the two friends
lay down on the cold snow, with nothing but
their blankets over them; and thus weary and
hungry passed the dreary night. The next morn-
ing they set to work with a single hatchet to build
a raft, on which they might cross the river. They
worked all day long on the frail thing, and just
after sundown succeeded in launching it on the
turbulent stream. When nearly halfway across,
huge fragments of floating ice came driving down
the current, and jamming against the crazy fabric
of logs, bore it downward and onward, threaten-
ing at every moment to carry it straight to the
26 GEORGE WASHINGTON
''Young Washington thrust his long setting
pole firmly in the ground in front of the raft, in
order to stop it till the ice and driftwood could
pass by, but instead of arresting them, he was
jerked overboard into ten feet of water, where
he had to swim for his life. Unable to keep the
raft, the two adventurers swam and waded to an
island near which they were passing; here amid
forest and snow, wet to the skin, without a dry
garment to wrap themselves in, or a blanket to
cover them, or a spark of fire to warm their be-
numbed hmbs — with their clothes frozen stiff
upon their backs, they passed the long, cold,
''Young Gist had his feet and hands frozen,
while Washington, with his greater power of endur-
"They were now without the means of reaching
either shore, but the biting cold that benumbed
their hands and froze stiff the hands and feet
of Gist, froze also the river with ice between
them and the shore they wished to gain. Escap-
ing the shot of the Indian, the dangers of the frost,
and death from xold, they at length, after an
absence of eleven weeks, arrived safely at home.
"When in the imagination I behold this youth
in his Indian days, his knapsack on his back and
TliE YOUNG SOLDIER 27
his gun in his hand, stealing through the snow-
covered forest at midnight, or plunging about in
the wintry stream in the struggle for life, or wrapped
in his blanket sleeping beside the ice-filled river,
lulled by its sullen roar, I seem to behold one whom
angels guard through the desperate training which
can alone fit him for the stern trials that are
And after all this suffering, St. Pierre's answer
proved unsatisfactory, so a second expedition,
under Colonel Joshua Fry, was formed to take
active measures against the French, with Wash-
ington as second in command. He now ranked
as lieutenant colonel, and through the death of
Colonel Fry became chief of the forces. After
several engagements he was obliged to surrender
at Fort Necessity, near Fort Dtlquesne, which
stood on the present site of Pittsburg, being out-
numbered four to one, yet in face of this defeat
he covered himself with glory by his strategy and
by his courage and resourcefulness. The legis-
lature of Virginia recognized him in a vote of
The trouble between the French and the col-
onists grew, and England, the mother country,
awoke to the necessity of stronger measures.
She sent out troops in command of Major General
28 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Edward Braddock, and with him expected to
make short work of her foes. Braddock himself
was confident and over-confident. He was a
brave man, but he misunderstood the task he had
undertaken. Warfare on the frontier was a very
different thing from warfare as he knew it. The
British miscalculated, much as they miscalculated
in the Boer war more than a century later, but
the colonists themselves stood in awe of the trained
soldiers who had come to their support.
Braddock was haughty and overbearing and
unwilling to listen to advice. He would have his
own way in all things.
However, he enlisted Washington as an aide,
and treated him civilly enough, though often
rejecting his advice. Washington, after the pre-
vious expedition, had retired to Mount Vernon
and was devoting himself to the cultivation of
*'The din and stir of warlike preparations dis-
turbed the quiet," says Irving. "Washington
looked down from his rural retreat upon the ships
of war and transports, as they passed up the
Potomac, with the array of armor gleaming along
their decks. The booming of cannon echoed
among his groves. Alexandria was but a few
miles distant. Occasionally, he mounted his horse
THE YOUNG SOLDIER 29
and rode to that place; it was like a garrisoned
town, teeming with troops, and resounding with
the fife and the drum. A brilliant campaign was
about to open under the auspices of an experienced
general, and with all the means and appurtenances
of European warfare. How different from the
starveling expeditions he had hitherto been doomed
to conduct! What an opportunity to efface the
memory of his recent disaster ! All thoughts of
rural life were put to flight. The military part
of his character was again in the ascendant; his
great desire was to join the expedition as a volun-
He marched away with Braddock^s army, full
of hope at the beginning, but soon saw its defects.
It was quite unfitted for the work before it and
frontier conditions. It lacked mobility and was
overweighted with unnecessary and inappro-
priate equipment. It moved slowly. Had Brad-
dock taken the advice of his youthful aide, disaster
might have been avoided, but at Fort Duquesne
the British and Americans were routed and the
general mortally wounded.
In his last moments the general apologized to
Washington for the petulance with which he had
rejected his advice and bequeathed to him his
favorite charger and his faithful mulatto servant,
30 GEORGE WASHINGTON
William Bishop. Washington had again dis-
tinguished himself by his courage. Three horses
were shot under him, and four bullets passed
through his coat.
"I heard the bullets whistle, and there is some-
thing charming in the sound/' are the words
attributed to him.
The story of the expedition is so interesting that
perhaps we had better repeat it with fuller details.
So great was the confidence of General Braddock
in the outcome of the expedition that he said to
Benjamin Franklin, "After taking Fort Duquesne,
I am to proceed to Niagara, and after having taken
that, to Frontenac, if the season will allow time,
and I suppose it will, for Duquesne can hardly
detain me above three or four days; and then I
can see nothing to obstruct my march to Niag-
"To be sure, sir," Franklin repHed, though he
So they set out, part of the way through the
clearings Washington had made on his previous
expedition. The army, a narrow column, was
four miles from the van to the rear, and was
impeded by the weight of its own equipment.
It mustered more than two thousand men, and had
before it mile after mile of mountain and valley,
THE YOUNG SOLDIER 31
forest and swamp, most of the way without a
footprint or a trail to guide it. Once they found
that after four days of toil they had covered only
twelve miles !
When at last they were within eight miles of
Duquesne, they were attacked by an advance
guard of the French in ambush. These spread
themselves within the shelter of the forest, and
from their covert poured upon them a deadly fire.
"God save the King,'' cried the English and
the colonists, for the king was the king of both
at that time, and they got to cover as well as they
could. Washington besought Braddock to scatter
them, but Braddock, who had had no experience
of this kind of fighting, persisted in exposing them
in the open. Little chance they had against
the French who, unseen, assailed them with a
continuous fire from behind the trees and thickets,
and among the French were six hundred Indian
warriors who fought like fiends.
Washington had been very ill and could hardly
keep in his saddle, but when the battle began he
seemed instantly to recover, and flung himself
into the fight with the greatest spirit. He exposed
himself with an utter indifference to every danger,
and had, as we have said, three horses shot under
him. He escaped without a wound. But only
32 GEORGE WASHINGTON
a remnant of the troops survived when they began
their retreat — less than five hundred of the
thirteen hundred engaged. "Retreat was inevi-
table," says Woodrow Wilson in his excellent ''Life
of Washington." "It was blessed good fortune
that it was still possible. When once it began it
was headlong, reckless, frenzied. The men ran
wildly, blindly, as if hunted by demons whom no
man might hope to resist — haunted by frightful
cries, maddened by the searching, secret fire of
their foes, now coming hot upon their heels.
Wounded comrades, military stores, baggage,
their very arms, they left upon the ground, aban-
doned. Far into the night they ran madly on in
frantic search for the camp of the rear division,
crying, as they ran, for help; they even passed
the camp, in their uncontrollable fear of pursuit,
and went desperately on towards the settlements.
"Washington and the few officers and provin-
cials who scoured the town found the utmost
difficulty in bringing off their stricken general,
where he lay wishing to die. Upon the fourth
day after the battle he died, loathing the sight of
a redcoat, they said, and murmuring praises of
the 'blues,' the once despised Virginians. They
buried his body in the road that the army wagons
might pass over the place and obliterate every
THE YOUNG SOLDIER 33
trace of a grave their savage enemies might rejoice
to find and desecrate.'^
When the army was reorganized and reinforced
under wiser men than Braddock, it returned to
the scene of its defeat and wiped out its disgrace
by a great victory, and henceforth Fort Duquesne
became Fort Pitt, so named after the famous
English statesman who afterwards proved him-
self the stanch friend of America in its revolt
against English extortion.
Soon afterward Washington was made com-
mander in chief of all the forces of Virginia, and
his promotion was not due to brilliant victories
but to the sagacity shown by him in defeat.
"Your name is more talked of in Philadelphia
than that of any other person in the army," wrote
a brother officer to him, "and everybody seems
willing to venture under your command."
The French and their allied Indians were active
not only in the South and in the West, but also in
the North. Terrible tales came of their atrocities.
"The supplicating tears of the women and the
moving petitions of the men melt me into such
deadly sorrow that I solemnly declare, if I know
my own mind, I could offer myself a wilHng sacri-
fice to the butchering enemy, provided that would
contribute to the people's ease."
34 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Thus spoke Washington, but he was embarrassed
in his attempts at rehef by legislative squabbles
and disorder among his men.
After the fall of Fort Duquesne, Washington
retired to Mount Vernon to resume the practice
of husbandry, but the war continued in other
parts of the country, and only ended with the
heroic young General Wolfe's great victory at
Quebec, which forever swept the dominion of the
French from this continent.
One can agree with Goldwin Smith that it would
have been much better if England had said to
the colonies at this time, ''I have done for you all
a parent could do. I have secured to you the
dominion of the new world; you have outgrown
my protection and control; follow henceforth
your own destiny, cultivate your magnificent
heritage, and be grateful to the arm which helped
to win it for you."
For the colonies were growing dissatisfied and
restless under England's rule, and gathering
clouds were soon to descend in a tempest.
Washington at Home
Washington had found a wife in a pretty and
wealthy young widow, Martha Custis, and though
she bore him no children, she brought him two
by her previous husband. He was very domestic
and loved the estate and the Hfe upon it. He
bought more and more land adjoining it until
it comprised more than eight thousand acres, and
he worked upon it early and late. He had horses,
sheep, cattle and dogs, a shoemaker's shop, a
blacksmith's shop, and looms, producing fabrics
and other articles which he sold in part to his
*'I begin my diurnal course with the sun," he
wrote. "If my hirelings are not in their places
at that time, I send them messages expressive of
my sorrow at their indisposition. Having put
these wheels in motion, I examine the state of
things further. By the time I have accomplished
these matters, breakfast (a little after seven o'clock)
36' GEORGE WASHINGTON
is ready. This being over, I mount my horse
and ride round my farms, which employs me until
it is time to dress for dinner."
A visitor thus describes him: "He often works
with his men himself — strips off his coat, and
works like a common man. The general has a
great turn for mechanics. It is astonishing with
what niceness he directs everything in the build-
ing way, condescending even to measure the things
himself, that all may be perfectly uniform."
His diary records how he and his "smithy"
produced a much better subsoil plow than could
be bought, and how he, after many trials, put in
successful operation an appliance for drilling corn
and other grain.
To obviate loss from threshing wheat by spread-
ing the sheaves in rows on the open ground and
"treading out" the grain by horses — risking
much by sudden changes of weather — he planned
and built a great octagonal barn, with storage
for crops above the main floor, and a "treading-
room" in the basement, where on rainy days his
animals and men could be usefully employed.
His mills were noted for the excellence of the
flour, which he shipped not only to West Indian
ports but to Europe. At the London custom-
house his "Mount Vernon" brand was accepted
WASHINGTON AT HOME 37
without inspection. The breeding of livestock
was a lucrative feature of the estate. Choice
animals and fowls from abroad were imported,
and the progeny yielded handsome returns.
Trees profitable for fruit were bought, and his
orchards as well as his vineyards became noted.
The presence even to-day of several species of the
mulberry at Mount Vernon indicates that the
culture of silkworms had his attention. Another
busy department was the spinning-house, where
practically all the fabrics for clothing his three
hundred slaves had to be made. There wool was
spun and woven, home-grown flax was '^ broke,
hackled and spun" into linen, and from the Caro-
linas raw cotton was obtained for working into
This branch of activity was Mrs. Washington's
special care, and in it she took much pride. Besides
clothing material, most of the Hnen and cotton
fabric for household use was there manufactured.
Some of the older servants, who were too decrepit
for field duty, were trained in the several processes
of carding, spinning, and weaving, and others
were taught to make shoes. Because of remote-
ness from centers of supply and slowness of trans-
portation facilities, the planters in those days had
to be thus self-sustaining.
38 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Another important feature of the estate was
its fisheries. ''This river" [the Potomac], he
wrote, "is well suppHed with various kinds of
fish at all seasons of the year, and, in the spring,
with the greatest profusion of shad, herrings, bass,
carp, perch, sturgeon, etc. Several valuable fish-
eries appertain to the estate; the whole shore, in
short, is one entire fishery."
And being very hospitable he had many guests,
some of them living with him permanently.
As an example of the fine hospitality of Mount
Vernon, we may repeat the incident of the guest
there who had a bad cold, and who, after retiring
for the night, heard a knock on his door. It was
Washington, who, apologizing for the intrusion,
brought with him a bowl of tea which he had made
for the guest with his own hands.
He became very fond of his two step-children,
John Parke and Martha Parke Custis, who at
the date of his marriage were respectively six and
four years old. His pet name for the girl was
"Patsy," and he frequently bought presents for
her. Among the orders sent to his London agents
was one for "ten shillings worth of toys," another
for "six little books for children beginning to read,"
another for "one fashionably dressed doll to cost
a guinea," and another for "a very good spinet."
WASHINGTON AT HOME 39
"Jack," the elder, was a little wayward, however,
and as he grew up caused his family some disap-
pointment. A tutor was procured for him, but
he had no taste for study, and Washington com-
plained that he preferred dogs, horses, and guns
"I want to fit you for more useful purposes than
a horse racer," he protested.
But Jack did not improve, and a few years later
married without consulting his mother or his step-
father who, when Jack died, had to adopt his
children. Indeed, Washington was the soul of
patience, and all his life had some member of his
own or his wife's family on his hands.
A characteristic letter of his was written to his
nephew, George Steptoe Washington, the son of his
brother. Colonel Samuel Washington. It is so full
of sound advice that I give all of it. Those who are
seeking mere entertainment may skip it. Those
who wish to improve themselves will find benefit in
reading it : —
"Mount Vernon, 23rd March, 1789.
" Dear George : As it is probable I shall soon be under
the necessity of quitting this place and entering once more
into the bustle of publick life, in conformity to the voice
of my country and the earnest entreaties of my friends, how-
ever contrary it is to my own desires or incUnations, I
think it incumbent on me as your uncle and friend to give
40 GEORGE WASHINGTON
you some advising hints, which, if properly attended to,
will, I conceive, be found very useful to you in regulating
your conduct and giving you respectability not only at
present but through every period of life.
" You have now arrived at that age when you must quit
the trifling amusements of a boy, and assume the more
dignified manners of a man. At this crisis your conduct
will attract the notice of those who are about you, and as
the first impressions are generally the most lasting, your
doings now may mark the leading traits of your character
through life. It is therefore absolutely necessary, if you
mean to make any figure upon the stage of Hfe, that you
should take the first step right. What these steps are,
and what general line is to be pursued to lay the founda-
tion of a happy and honourable progress, is the part of age
and experience to point out. This I shall do as far as in
my power, with the utmost cheerfulness, and I trust that
your own good sense will show you the necessity of follow-
" The first and great object with you at present is to acquire
by industry and appHcation such knowledge as your situa-
tion enables you to obtain and as will be useful to you in
life. In doing this, two other important objects will be
gained besides the acquirement of knowledge, namely, a
habit of industry and disrelish of that profusion of money
and dissipation of time which are ever attended upon idle-
ness. I do not mean close application to your studies;
that you should never enter into those amusements which
are suited to your age and station. They may be made
to go hand in hand with each other, and used in their proper
seasons will be found to be a mutual assistance to each
other. But what amusements are to be taken and what is
WASHINGTON AT HOME 41
the great matter to be attended to? Your own judgment,
with the advice of your real friends, who may have an
opportunity of a personal intercourse with you, can point
out the particular manner in which you may best spend
your moments of relaxation much better than I can at a
distance. One thing, however, I would strongly impress
upon you, namely, when you have leisure to go into com-
pany that it always should be of the best kind that the
place you are in will afford. By this means you will be
constantly improving your manners and cultivating your
mind while you are relaxing from your books, and good
company will always be found much less expensive than
■ " You cannot afford as an excuse for not using it that you
cannot gain admission there, or that you have not a proper
attention paid you in it. This is an apology made only
by those whose manners are disgusting or whose character is
exceptionable, neither of which I hope will ever be said
of you. I cannot enjoin too strongly upon you a due
observance of economy and frugality. As you well know
yourself, the present state of your property and finances
will not admit of any unnecessary expense.
" The article of clothing is now one of the chief expenses
you will incur, and in this I fear you are not so economical
as you should be. Decency and cleanliness will always
be the first objects in the dress of a judicious and sensible
man. A conformity to the prevailing fashion in a certain
degree is necessary, but it does not follow from thence that
a man should always get a new coat or other clothes upon
trifling change in the mode, when perhaps he has two or
three very good ones by him. A person who is anxious
to be a leader of the fashion or one of the first to follow
42 GEORGE WASHINGTON
it will certainly appear in the eyes of judicious men to have
nothing better than a frequent change of dress to recom-
mend him to notice. I would wish you to appear sufficiently
decent to entitle you to admission into any company where
you may be. I cannot too strongly enjoin it upon you,
and your knowledge must convince you of the truth of it —
that you should be as Httle expensive in this object as you
properly can ; you should always keep some clothes to wear
to church or on particular occasions, which should not be
worn every day. This case can be done without any addi-
tional expense, for whenever it is necessary to get new
clothes those which have been kept for particular occasions
will then come in as everyday clothes, unless they should
be of a superior quaHty of the new. What I have said
with respect to clothes will apply perhaps more pointedly
to Lawrence than to you. And as you are much older than
he is, and more capable of judging of the propriety of what
I have observed, you must pay attention to him in this
respect and see that he does not wear his clothes improperly
" Much more might be said to you as a young man upon
the necessity of paying a new attention to the moral virtues,
but this may, perhaps, more properly be the subject of a
future letter when you are about to enter into the world.
If you comply with the advice herein given, to pay a diligent
attention to your studies and employ your time of relaxa-
tion in proper company, you will find but few opportunities
and little inclination while you continue at an academy
to enter those scenes of vice and dissipation which too often
present themselves to youth in every place, and particularly
in towns. If you are determined to neglect your books
and plunge into extravagance and dissipation, nothing
WASHINGTON AT HOME 43
that I could now say would prevent it, for you must be
employed, and if it is not in pursuit of those things which
are profitable, it must be in pursuit of those which are
" Your affec. friend and uncle,
"To Mr. George S. Washington."
In his habits and appearance George Washing-
ton was much like an English country gentleman,
blue-eyed, kind, dignified, and hospitable. We
can infer that, but for the dictates of duty and the
demands on his patriotism, he would have chosen
to remain a country gentleman, fully content with
the simplicity of his life as a Virginia planter. We
can see him going about his farm, keenly observ-
ant, strict but humane with his servants, tall
and upstanding, fresh-faced, vigorous, and expect-
ing from all under him a measure of his own dili-
gence and precision. Of all the words we have
used in describing him, none fits him better than
that one word "stately."
The Beginning of the War
England now treats her colonies with such
fairness that they are with her heart and soul,
as in the last great war, but for more than ten
years before the Revolutionary War began she im-
posed upon them and exasperated them. Her
navigation laws compelled them to export their
productions only to countries belonging to the
British crown, and to import European goods
solely from England and in British ships. All
manufactures of the colonies that might interfere
with those of the mother country were prohibited
or subjected to restraints. Taxes were imposed.
The colonists protested that there should be no
taxation; that is to say, that so long as they
were not represented in the EngHsh parliament
they should not be taxed. The exactions increased.
In 1765 a stamp act was passed by ParHament
which required all documents to be written on
stamped paper purchased from the government.
Virginia was particularly enraged.
THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR 45
With Washington in the House of Burgesses
sat Patrick Henry, a young lawyer of impassioned
eloquence, who introduced resolutions declaring
that not Parliament but the General Assembly
of Virginia alone had the right and power to levy
*Xaesar had his Brutus," Patrick Henry ex-
claimed, "King Charles his Cromwell, and George
the Third — may profit by their example."
"Treason! Treason!" cried a few of the bur-
"Sir !" he went on, "if this be treason, make the
most of it!"
The resolutions then passed were followed by a
general outcry, and addresses praying for redress
were sent to the king and to Parliament.
In Boston the people pulled down the house of
a stamp distributor, and setting fire to it burned
him in effigy. The ships in the harbor showed
their colors at half mast. In New York the
printed law was carried about the streets on a pole,
surmounted by a death's head, with a scroll bear-
ing the inscription, "The folly of England is the
ruin of America."
The British government was alarmed and made
some effort to pacify the colonists, without suc-
ceeding. The king was obstinate and his prime
46 GEORGE WASHINGTON
minister, Lord North, was weak. Some young men
in Boston attacked the British troops and were
fired on. Only five of them were killed and six
wounded after much provocation, but this fray
became known as the ''Boston Massacre" and
added to the excitement.
Removing some of the taxes, the government
still insisted on a tax on tea, and the people re-
solved to give up the use of that article entirely.
More than that, some of them in Boston, disguised
as Indians, boarded the ships in the harbor which
were laden with tea, and emptied all there was of
it into the sea. Their adventure has always been
called the "Boston Tea-Party."
In reprisal ParHament passed the Boston Port
Bill and other measures which punished that
city by putting an embargo on all its commerce
and ending all its privileges. The news of this
soon reached Virginia, and threw the House of
Burgesses into revolt. They passed resolutions
of sympathy which the governor, Lord Dunmore,
would not accept.
"Mr. Speaker, and gentlemen of the House of
Burgesses," he said, "1 have in my hand a paper,
pubHshed by order of your house, conceived in
such terms as reflect highly upon his Majesty
and the ParHament of Great Britain, which makes
THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR 47
it necessary for me to dissolve you, and you are
We can imagine the temper in which this was
received, partly in derision and partly in defiance.
The burgesses left the hall and went to a neighbor-
ing tavern where they repeated their protests
and proposed the summoning of a general congress
of the various colonies. Many in England sym-
pathized with them, including the great Earl of
Even yet they did not aim at separation. Ben-
jamin Franklin declared that having traveled the
whole country he had never heard from any per-
son a wish for separation, or a hint that such a
thing could be of advantage to America.
Washington said in October, 1774, '^I am well
satisfied that no such thing as independence is
desired by any thinking man in all North America ;
on the contrary, that it is the ardent wish of the
warmest advocates for liberty that peace and
tranquillity on constitutional grounds will be
restored, and the horrors of civil discord pre-
There were as many as twenty-five thousand
loyalists who for some time supported the king
and Parliament, but their numbers gradually
48 GEORGE WASHINGTON
The first Continental Congress met in Carpen-
ter's Hall, Philadelphia, and all the colonies were
represented in it, except Georgia. Washington
was present as a delegate from Virginia. The
first public measure was a resolution against recent
acts of Parliament violating the rights of the people
''To these grievous acts and measures," the
resolutions declared, "Americans cannot submit;
but in the hopes their fellow-subjects in Great
Britain will, on a revision of them, restore us to
that state in which both countries found happi-
ness and prosperity, we have, for the present only,
resolved to pursue peaceable measures."
The Congress remained in session fifty-one
days, and the Earl of Chatham, speaking in the
House of Lords of what it did, praised it in no
uncertain terms. He said, ''When your lordships
look at the papers transmitted to us from America ;
when you consider their decency, firmness, and
wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause and
wish to make it your own. For myself, I must
declare and avow that in the master states of the
world, I know not the people, or senate, who, in
such a combination of difficult circumstances,
can stand in preference to the delegates of America
assembled in General Congress in Philadelphia."
THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR 49
When Patrick Henry, who also was a delegate,
was asked whom he considered the greatest man
in Congress, he replied, ''If you speak of eloquence,
Mr. Rutledge, of South Carolina, is by far the
greatest orator, but if you speak of solid informa-
tion and sound judgment, George Washington
is undoubtedly the greatest man on the floor."
Little was done by Parliament to pacify the
discontented people, and the outbreaks grew more
and more formidable. Military preparations, hith-
erto confined to New England, spread to the Middle
and Southern colonies, and Virginia was among
the first to buckle on its armor. Washington
at once became, from the confidence he inspired
and the abilities he possessed, the military leader
of the people.
At a meeting at Richmond, Patrick Henry
said, "It is useless to address further petitions
to the government, or to await the effects of those
already addressed to the Throne. The time for
supplication is past; the time for action is at
hand. We must fight, Mr. Speaker! I repeat
it. Sir, we must fight ! An appeal to arms and
to the God of Hosts is all that is left to us."
The cooler and more deliberate Washington
also, at last, saw with the greatest reluctance
that war was inevitable. He wrote to his brother,
50 GEORGE WASHINGTON
"It is my full intention, if necessary, to devote
my life and future to this cause."
The Massachusetts colonists had a store of
guns and ammunition at Concord, which General
Gage, the British commandant, decided to seize
by stealth. He dispatched his troops from Boston
for Concord at night, but the colonists surprised
him more than he surprised them. They had
learned of his expedition, and as the troops ad-
vanced they were preceded in the villages on the
way by the clang of bells and the reports of alarm
guns. By the time the British reached Lexington,
they were confronted by about seventy of the
patriots who were armed and ready for the fray.
Shots were exchanged, but the forces were so
unequal that the Americans were obliged to retreat.
Then the British continued on their way to
Concord, and there met with an inglorious defeat.
As they retreated to Boston, they were assailed
by the murderous fire of sharpshooters behind
every wall and fence, and thus sounded ''the shot
heard round the world," of which Emerson has
sung. The Americans were indeed "embattled
farmers," most of them without uniform, in the
dress of every day, recruits from field and shop,
old and young.
Probably never before in history had a few ciyil-
THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR 51
ians met and routed such a body of trained soldiers.
The war had begun in earnest. But the odds were
against the Americans, for they had used up their
ammunition and were unpaid and without arms
or proper clothing. The disposition to uphold
the army was general, but much jealousy was
shown as to who should be commander in chief.
A second Congress met in Philadelphia, and
there John Adams brought the members to a
decision. He said, ^'I had no hesitation to declare
that I had but one gentleman in mind for that
important command, and that was a gentleman
from Virginia, who was among us, and very well
known to all of us; a gentleman whose skill and
experience as an oi3icer, whose independent fortune,
great talents, and excellent universal talents,
would command the approbation of all America
and unite the cordial exertions of all the colonies
better than any other person in the Union. Mr.
Washington, as soon as he heard me allude to
him, from his usual modesty, darted into the
So Washington was elevated to that high posi-
tion almost against his own judgment and wishes.
"However," he said, "as Congress desires it,
I will enter upon the momentous duty, and exert
every power I possess in their service and for the
52 GEORGE WASHINGTON
support of the glorious cause. As to pay, I beg
leave to assure Congress that as no pecuniary
consideration could have tempted me to assume
this arduous employment, at the expense of my
domestic ease and happiness, I do not wish to
make any profit from it."
To Mrs. Washington he wrote, ^'So far from
seeking this appointment, I have used every
endeavor in my power to avoid it ; not only from
my unwillingness to part from you and the family,
but from a consciousness of its being too great
a trust for my capacity. I should enjoy more
real happiness from a month with you at home
than I have the most distant prospect of finding
abroad if my stay were to be seven times seven
years. But as it has been a kind of destiny that
has thrown me upon this service, I shall hope
that my undertaking it is designed to answer
some good purpose."
Then he was solicitous for those dependent upon
him during his absence from home, and wrote
to his steward, 'Tet the hospitality of the house
with respect to the poor be kept up. Let no one
go hungry away. If any of this kind of people
should be in want of corn, supply their necessities,
provided it does not encourage them to idleness,
and I have no objection to your giving my money
THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR 53
in charity to the amount of forty or fifty pounds
a year, when you think it well bestowed. What I
mean by having no objection is, that it is my
desire it should be done. You are to consider
that neither myself or my wife is now in the way
to do those good offices."
Washington commands respect from our first
knowledge of him, but the more one reads of him
the more respect warms into profound admiration
He preferred peace; he would have avoided
war if he could. He said : '' My first wish is to see
this plague to mankind banished from the earth,
and the sons and daughters of this world employed
in more pleasing and innocent amusements than
in preparing implements and exercising them for
the destruction of mankind. Rather than quarrel
about territory, let the poor, the needy, and op-
pressed of the earth, and those who want land,
resort to the fertile plains of our western country,
the second land of promise, and there dwell in peace,
fulfilling the first and great commandment."
Battles near Boston
On May 5, 1775, ships of war and transports
arrived from England, bringing reinforcements
under Generals Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton.
The Americans were besieging Boston, in which
their adversary was shut up.
^'What!" cried Burgoyne. "Ten thousand
peasants keep hve thousand king^s troops shut
up ! Well, let us get in, and we'll soon find elbow
The Americans were undisciplined and ill-
prepared. The greater part of them had never
seen service. But most of them were good marks-
men, and that was to tell against the better equip-
ment and numbers of the enemy. The battle
of Bunker Hill was fought, and there the colonists
proved that they could measure weapons with the
British, though after much hard fighting, and
with immense loss to the enemy, they were de-
BATTLES NEAR BOSTON 55
Woodrow Wilson says: "There was no hurry,
it seemed, about attacking the sixteen thousand
raw provincials [Americans] whose long lines
were drawn loosely about the town from Charles-
town Neck to Jamaica Plain. But commanding
hills looked across the water on either hand — in
Charles town on the north and in Dorchester on
the southeast — and it would be well, General
Howe saw, to secure them, lest they should be
occupied by the insurgents. On the morning of
the 17 th of June, however, while leisurely prep-
arations were a-making in Boston to occupy the
hills of Charles town, it was discovered that the
provincials had been beforehand in the project.
"There they were in the clear sun, working dili-
gently at redoubts of their own upon the heights.
Three thousand men were put across the water
to drive them off. Though they mustered only
seventeen hundred behind their unfinished re-
doubts, three several assaults and the loss of a
thousand men was the cost of dislodging them.
They withheld their fire until they were within
fifty — nay, thirty — yards of them, and then
poured out a deadly, blazing fire which no man
could face and live. They were ousted only when
they failed of powder and despaired of reinforce-
ments. Veteran officers who had led the assault
56 GEORGE WASHINGTON
declared the regulars of France were not more
formidable than these miHtia-men, whom they had
despised as raw peasants."
Washington then arrived, and under the great
elm on the common at Cambridge took his place
as commander in chief.
The appearance of Boston changed under mili-
tary preparations. Washington wrote, "Who
would have thought, twelve months past, that all
Cambridge and Charlestown would be covered
over with American camps, and cut up into forts
and intrenchments, and all the fields and orchards
laid common, horses and cattle feeding in the
choicest mowing land, whole fields of corn eaten
down to the ground, and large parks of well-
regulated locust trees cut down for firewood and
other public purposes? This, I must say, looks
a little melancholy. My quarters are at the foot
of Prospect Hill, where great preparations are
made for the reception of the enemy. It is very
diverting to walk among the camps. They are
as different in their forms as the owners are in
their dress, and every tent is a portrait of the
temper and tastes of the persons who encamp in
it. Some are made of boards and some of sack
cloth. Some partly of one and partly of the other.
Again, others are made of stone and turf, brick
BATTLES NEAR BOSTON 57
or branch. Some are thrown up in a hurry, others
curiously wrought, the doors and windows done
with withes and witches in the manner of a
basket. Some are your proper tents and marquees,
looking like the regular camp of the enemy.''
One of his first orders stated that ''exact dis-
cipline will be observed, and due subordination
expected through the whole army, as a failure in
these most essential points must necessarily pro-
duce extreme hazard, disorder, and confusion,
and end in shameful disappointment and dis-
grace." He forbade swearing and drunkenness
and "required and expected of all officers and
soldiers not engaged in actual duty, a punctual
attendance on divine service, to implore the
blessing of Heaven upon the means used for our
safety and defence."
Meanwhile the Americans carried the war into
Canada, under such officers as Ethan Allen, Bene-
dict Arnold, and Richard Montgomery, but
though their expeditions were gallant, they did
not succeed in conquering that country.
Washington, as ever, showed his magnanimity
toward the French Canadians by writing to Gen-
eral Arnold thus : —
" I give it in charge to you to avoid all disrespect
of the religion of the country and its ceremonies.
58 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Prudence, policy, and a true Christian spirit
will lead us to look with compassion upon their
errors without insulting them. While we are
contending for our own liberty, we should be very
cautious not to violate the rights of conscience in
others, ever considering that God alone is the
Judge of the hearts of men, and to Him only in
this case they are answerable."
He was solicitous for all prisoners, even for a
son of Lord Chatham who was supposed to be
traveling in Canada, and his attitude toward the
enemy may be seen in another letter to Arnold : —
"If Lord Chatham's son should be in Canada,
and in any way should fall into your power, you
are enjoined to treat him with all possible deference
and respect. You cannot err in paying too much
honor to the son of so illustrious a character, and
so true a friend to America. Any other prisoners
who may fall into your hands you will treat with
as much humanity and kindness as may be con-
sistent with your own safety and the public inter-
est. Be very particular in restraining not only your
own troops, but the Indians, from all acts of cruelty
and insult, which will disgrace the American arms
and irritate our fellow-subjects against us."
Furthermore : — "You will be particularly care-
ful to pay the full value for all provisions, or other
BATTLES NEAR BOSTON 59
accommodations, which the Canadians may pro-
vide for you on your march. By no means press
them or any of their cattle into your service, but
amply compensate those who voluntarily assist
you. For this purpose you are provided with a
sum of money in specie, which you will use with
as much frugality and economy as your necessities
and good poHcy will admit, keeping as exact
an account as possible of your disbursements.
^'As the contempt of the religion of a country
by ridiculing any of its ceremonies, or affronting
its ministers or votaries, has ever been deeply
resented, you are to be particularly careful to
restrain every officer and soldier from such impru-
dence and folly, and to punish every instance of
it. On the other hand, as far as lies in your power,
you are to protect and support the free exer-
cise of the rehgion of the country, and the undis-
turbed enjoyment of the rights of conscience in
religious matters, with your utmost influence and
The siege of Boston continued through the
winter, and the great chief writing to a friend in
Virginia thus described his position: —
^'The enemy in Boston and on the heights at
Charlestown (two peninsulas surrounded in a
manner by ships of war and floating batteries)
6o GEORGE WASHINGTON
are so strongly fortified as to render it almost
impossible to face their lines, thrown up at the
head of each neck.
"We can therefore do no more than keep them
besieged, which they are, to all intents and pur-
poses, as closely as any troops on earth can be
who have an opening to the sea. Our advanced
works and theirs are within musket-shot. We
daily undergo a cannonade, which has done no
injury to our works and very little hurt to our
men. Those insults we are compelled to submit
to for want of powder ; being obliged, except now
and then giving them a shot, to reserve what we
have for closer work than cannon distance."
One morning early in March the British were
astonished to find a great new fortification thrown
up on Dorchester Heights.
"The rebels have done more in a single night
than my whole army would have done in a month ! "
bitterly exclaimed General Howe, the British chief.
It was like a work of magic, and threatened the
British positions as they had not been threatened
before. So formidable was it that it overawed
General Howe, who began to think of retiring
without waiting for the reinforcements he expected.
He had scouted the idea of being "in danger from
the rebels"; he had "hoped they would attack
BATTLES NEAR BOSTON 6l
him." But now his confidence left him, and he
had to choose between a night attack on Boston
or the evacuation of that city. The night attack
was prevented by a violent storm which played
havoc with the transports, and on March 17, 1776,
the British, in seventy-eight ships, departed, leav-
ing the city and its neighborhood for good.
While Washington was in possession of General
Howe's headquarters in Boston, he placed on his
knee the little granddaughter of his landlady, and
asked the child which she like the best, the red-
coats who had gone, or the Americans who had
displaced them. ^'The redcoats," the child replied,
thinking of their more brilliant uniform. ^'Ah,
my dear," said Washington, patting her, ^'they
look better, but they don't fight as well. The
ragged fellows are the boys for fighting." So
indeed they were proving themselves to be, though
one German officer wrote: ^'Our army is strong,
finely clothed, and in excellent condition; full
of courage and beautifully drilled; capable of
looking into the white of the eye of Washington
and all his tatterdemalions."
Washington had been criticized for his apparent
inactivity, but later on he was hailed for the genius
by which in the course of a few months he had
improved his forces.
62 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Unlike the British commander, he had not been
over-confident and arrogant. There is a letter
of his describing the anxious hours he suffered
before the British retired : —
"The reflection on my situation, and that of
this army, produces many an unhappy hour when
all around me are wrapped in sleep. Few people
know the predicaments we are in, on a thousand
accounts; fewer still will believe, if any disaster
happens to these lines, from what cause it flows.
I have often thought how much happier I should
have been, if, instead of accepting command under
such circumstances, I had taken my musket on
my shoulder and entered the ranks ; or, if I could
have justified the measure to posterity and my
own conscience, had retired to the back country
and lived in a wigwam. If I shall be able to rise
superior to these, and many other difficulties
which might be enumerated, I shall religiously
believe that the finger of Providence is in it, to
bHnd the eyes of our enemies; for surely if we
get well through this month, it must be for want
of their knowing the disadvantages we labor
Defeats in New York
When General Howe was driven from Boston,
he steered for Halifax to await the delayed rein-
forcements from England, and afterwards moved
on New York, where Washington arrived before
him with the greater part of his army. The first
battle was that of Long Island, in which the Ameri-
cans were defeated through their unpreparedness.
The British fleet nearly filled the harbor, and the
British army included thirty thousand men, per-
fectly equipped. They had possession of Staten
Island and made their way up the Hudson un-
opposed. General Howe put twenty thousand
men ashore at Gravesend Bay, and there he in-
tended to attack the Americans gathered on Brook-
lyn Heights, but before he could reach them Wash-
ington had made a masterly retreat, taking his
ten thousand men, with all their stores and arms,
across the East River.
Earl Howe, the General's brother, was in com-
mand of the fleet, and he now declared himself
64 GEORGE WASHINGTON
empowered to compromise the dispute and pardon
*'No doubt we all need pardon from Heaven
for our manifold sins and transgressions," said
Governor Trumbull of Connecticut, "but the
American who needs the pardon of his Britannic
Majesty is yet to be found."
A conference took place on Staten Island
and the old house where the meeting was held is
still standing, a venerable reminder of Revolu-
The American committee consisted of Benjamin
Frankhn, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge.
All three had signed the Declaration of Independ-
ence. The Earl had been a warm friend and
admirer of Franklin during the latter's stay in
England, and high hopes had been based on the
possible outcome of this meeting. The Americans,
however, refused to entertain any proposal looking
toward an amicable settlement unless Great Brit-
ain's representative first acknowledged the in-
dependence of the rebellious colonies. As the
Earl was not empowered to make so sweeping a
concession, the conference came to naught.
At its conclusion the Earl expressed his sorrow
at the failure of the conference and the necessity
he would be under to continue the conflict.
DEFEATS IN NEW YORK 65
"I feel thankful to your lordship for your re-
gard," said Benjamin Franklin, with his unfailing
humor. "The Americans on their part will en-
deavor to lessen the pain you feel by taking the
best possible care of themselves."
Soon after the Declaration of Independence was
signed, a second mild attempt at conciliation was
made. Howe, the British commander, and his
brother, Admiral Howe, were ordered by their
government to parley with the Americans, and one
afternoon word came that a boat was coming from
the British lines to the American camp. Another
boat went out to meet it. A lieutenant was in
command of the British boat, who had in his
possession a letter addressed to *'Mr. Washington. "
Colonel Reed, in charge of the American boat, said
he knew no "Mr. Washington," only General
Washington. The British were unwilling to rec-
ognize Washington by that title, and the parties
separated without the delivery of the letter. It
was only a point of etiquette but Washington was
firm on it.
Five days later the British again approached,
and this time referred to Washington as "Your
Excellency," while they addressed him as "George
Washington, Esquire," etc., etc.
Lord Howe thought this would do, but Wash
66 GEORGE WASHINGTON
ington would accept nothing less than his full and
proper title, and Lord Howe at last had to inform
his government that it would be necessary to back
down, and that they did rather ignominiously.
Congress approved of Washington's attitude in
the matter, and directed that no message or letter
should be received on any occasion whatsoever
from the enemy, by the commander in chief or
by any other commander, except such as were
properly addressed to them by their titles.
In the meantime General Israel Putnam, on
Washington's orders, abandoned New York and
joined him on the heights of Harlem, where the
commander in chief was intrenched. He had
thousands of men strengthening his position.
Passing among them he found a youth of nineteen
whose work showed extraordinary skill and zeal.
This was Alexander Hamilton, whose warm friend
till the end of his life Washington then became.
Hamilton is described as appearing at the head
of a company of artillery, a "mere boy, with a
small, delicate, and tender frame, who, with a
cocked hat pulled down over his eyes, and ap-
parently lost in thought, marched beside his
cannon, patting it every now and then as if it were
a favorite horse or pet plaything."
An attempt of the enemy to break through
DEFEATS IN NEW YORK 67
the lines of Harlem Heights failed, with heavy loss,
and this did something to revive the spirits of
the American troops, but they were in a bad way,
and Washington said, ^'Unless some speedy and
effectual measures are adopted by Congress, our
cause is lost." Under these gloomy apprehensions
he borrowed "a few moments from the hours
allotted for sleep," and sent Congress a letter
setting forth the inefficiency of the existing military
system, the disobedience, waste, confusion, and
discontent produced by it among the men, and the
vexations it caused the officers. He not only
complained but pointed out the remedies. As a
result the army was reorganized and established
on a permanent footing. It was decreed that
eighty-eight battalions should be raised by the
different states, according to their abilities, and
the conditions of service were very much improved
in all respects. But there were still many dis-
couragements for the Americans, and decisive
victory was still far off. From New York they
were obliged to retreat across the Hudson to New
Jersey, and then across the Delaware to Pennsyl-
"How long, sir, shall we continue to retreat?"
an officer asked Washington, who replied, "If we
can do no better, we will retreat over every river in
68 GEORGE WASHINGTON
America, and last of all over the mountains, where
we shall never lack opportunity to annoy, and
finally, I hope, to expel the enemies of our coun-
Various expedients were tried to keep the British
back. Putnam had placed obstructions across the
Hudson near Spuyten Duyvil. He sank ships
loaded with stones across the river, and had a sort
of primitive torpedo-boat, with which he hoped
to blow up the British men-of-war. The good
ships of stout oak broke through the vaunted
barriers as through a cobweb, and a well-aimed
shot sent the submarine engine to the bottom of
An English officer wrote to a friend in London,
''The Rebel army are in so wretched a condition
as to clothing and accouterments, that I believe
no native ever saw such a set of tatterdemalions.
There are few coats among them but what are out
at the elbows, and in a whole regiment there is
scarcely a pair of breeches. Judge, then, how they
must be pinched by a winter's campaign. We who
are warmly clothed and well-equipped already
feel it severely, for it is even now much colder than
I ever felt it in England."
That Washington succeeded as well as he did
was amazing in view of the inexperience of his
DEFEATS IN NEW YORK 69
troops, who in the main were as undisciplined as
they were ununiformed. It was indeed difficult
to keep them in order. They wished to elect their
own officers, and then to treat them as equals.
In one instance the colonel of a regiment served
as barber for his men. Boys in their teens fought
side by side with men of sixty and over. There
was one company of twenty-four men whose
united ages reached a thousand years. They were
all married men and left behind them at home a
hundred and fifty-nine children and grandchildren.
Nor did they always leave their offspring behind.
Often a grandfather fought side by side with his
son and his grandson. But in the beginning all
of them were held in contempt by the aristocratic
Germans and British, who neither sympathized
with them nor understood such simple democrats
as the Americans were. "What!" said a haughty
Hessian, ''this fellow is a butcher, and they call
him major ! This a grocer, and they call him
colonel ! This an old farmer, and they call him
general. Why, there is not a gentleman among
them ! " The English employed German mercenaries.
Washington was so far playing a losing game,
and what could be more pathetic than the sight
of his ragged soldiery standing up in skirmish
after skirmish and battle after battle in the neigh-
70 GEORGE WASHINGTON
borhood of New York against superior numbers
and superior equipment. He bore every reverse
with the utmost fortitude, seldom, in his heart of
hearts, and in the midst of disasters, losing faith
in the ultimate success of his plans.
Fort Washington, below Spuyten Duyvil on the
Hudson, regarded as impregnable, had fallen with
heavy losses, and all during Washington's retreat
through New Jersey he was much harassed,
especially by the hired Hessians, who included in
their ranks many desperate characters, such as
thieves and murderers. It was midwinter and
the American soldiers were in rags. Many of the
people of New Jersey were themselves either
half-hearted in the cause of liberty or openly dis-
loyal to the patriots and were only aroused by the
ill-treatment they received from the foe.
Crossing the Delaware
There is an interesting description of Vl^sh-
ington as he appeared to his contemporaries, by
one who commanded a company in the Revolution-
ary War, and who saw him before the crossing of
"Washington, '^ he says, "had a large thick
nose, and that day I saw him, gave me the impres-
sion that he was not so moderate in the use of
liquors as he was supposed to be. I found after-
wards that this was a peculiarity. His nose was
apt to turn scarlet in a cold wind. He was stand-
ing near a small camp fire, evidently lost in thought,
and making no effort to keep warm. He seemed
six feet and a half in height, was as erect as an
Indian, and did not relax for a moment from a
military attitude. Washington's exact height was
six feet two in his boots.
"He was then a little lame from striking his
knee against a tree. His eye was so gray that it
72 GEORGE WASHINGTON
looked almost white, and he had a troubled look
on his colorless face. He had a piece of woolen
cloth around his throat and was quite hoarse. Per-
haps the throat trouble from which he finally died
had its origin about then.
''Washington's boots were enormous. They
were number 13. His ordinary walking shoes
were number 11. His hands were large in propor-
tion and he could not buy a ready-made glove to"
fit him, and so had to have his gloves made to
order to fit him.
''His mouth was his strong feature, his lips
always being tightly compressed. That day they
were compressed so tightly, as to be painful to
look at. !
"At that time he weighed two hundred pounds,
and there was no surplus flesh about him. He was
tremendously muscled, and the fame of his great
strength was everywhere. His large tent when
wrapped up with poles was so heavy that it re-
quired two men to place it in the camp wagon.
Washington would lift it up with one hand and
throw it into the camp wagon as easily as if it
were a pair of saddle-bags. He could hold a
musket with one hand and shoot with precision
as easily as other men did with a horse pistol.
"His lungs were his weak point and his voice
CROSSING THE DELAWARE 73
was never strong. He was at that time in the
prime of life. His hair was a chestnut-brown,
his cheeks were prominent, and his head was not
large compared in contrast to every other part of
his body, which seemed large and bony at all
points. His finger joints and wrists were so large
as to be genuine curiosities.
"As to his habits at that period, I found out
much that might be interesting. He was an enor-
mous eater, but was content with bread and
meat, if he had plenty of it. But hunger seemed
to put him in a rage."
This is not a flattering picture, and there are
some mistakes in it, yet some of the details are
beyond a doubt quite true. One thing it does not
record — the phenomenal power he had of awing
an audience. He could move vast bodies of men
by his presence alone. People became and re-
mained grave before him until they awoke, as
from a trance, and burst into resounding applause.
Retreating through New Jersey, Washington
crossed to the western shore of the Delaware
River near Trenton, and on the night of December
25, 1776, he made his historic crossing back to the
eastern shore, to attack Colonel Rail and his force
of more than a thousand men.
The night was bitterly cold, with high winds,
74 GEORGE WASHINGTON
sleet, and snow. Two of the patriot army were
frozen to death, and many of the muskets were put
out of action through becoming wet. Washington
was never nearer despair than at this time.
^'No man, I believe," he wrote to his brother,
*'ever had a greater choice of difficulties, and less
means to extricate himself from them. However,
under a full persuasion of the victory of our cause,
I cannot entertain an idea that it will finally sink,
though it may remain for some time under a cloud."
An engagement took place. The British, or
rather the Hessians, who were mercenary soldiers
fighting for them, were taken by surprise, and
after a brief engagement more than a thousand of
them were captured.
The battle of Trenton was one of the most
dramatic and picturesque of the whole war. It
was fought at Christmas in the scurry of a frightful
storm, with the thermometer close to zero. An
excellent but simple account of it is given in a
letter to his wife by Colonel Knox: ''About half
a mile from the town," he wrote, ''was an advance
guard on each road, consisting of a captain's guard.
These we forced, and entered the town with them
pell-mell ; and here succeeded a scene of war which
I had often conceived, but never saw before. The
hurry, fright, and confusion of the enemy was not
CROSSING THE DELAWARE 75
unlike that which will be when the last trump shall
sound. They endeavored to form in the streets,
the heads of which we had previously the possession
of with cannon and howitzers. These, in the
twinkling of an eye, cleared the streets. The backs
of the houses were resorted to for shelter. These
proved ineffectual. The musketry soon dislodged
them. Finally they were driven through the town
into the open plains beyond.''
Washington had made the watchword of the
day "Victory or death." He observed that while
in other actions he had seen misbehavior in some
individuals, at Trenton he had seen none. Not a
soul was found skulking, but all were fierce for
They captured six fieldpieces, a thousand fine
muskets, and fifteen standards. And, strange
to relate, while hundreds of the enemy had fallen,
not a single American was killed.
Thus they replied to the contempt of the Hes-
sians, for among the American commanders were
Knox, a Boston bookseller, Nathanael Greene,
the son of a Quaker blacksmith who followed his
father's trade, and SterHng, a shopkeeper. An-
other who distinguished himself by his bravery
was a young lieutenant, James Monroe, who
afterwards became fifth President of the United
76 GEORGE WASHINGTON
States, and author of the famous Monroe Doc-
Almost immediately after Trenton came the
battle of Princeton, where again the Americans
were victorious and left the foe with greater re-
spect for their powers.
A few days later the British advanced again.
"Now is the time to make sure of Washington,"
said a British officer to Lord Cornwallis.
"Oh, well, the old fox can't escape this time.
To-morrow morning we'll fall upon him and take
him and his ragamuffins all at once."
But in the morning the "old fox" could not be
found. He took three hundred more prisoners, and
before going into winter quarters at Morristown,
he gained possession of most of the enemy's posts
in New Jersey. Hearing of his success his mother
said, "Here is too much flattery. Still, George
will not forget the lessons I taught him. He will
not forget himself, though he is the subject of so
Dark Days in Pennsylvania
By the summer of 1777, the British were again
active in Canada and Northern New York. There
was much sympathy with them among many of
the people who still preferred King George to
independence, and General Howe issued a proc-
lamation promising security to all Tories who
took no further part in the war.
"For two years have we maintained the war,"
Washington declared, "and struggled with diffi-
culties innumerable, but the prospect has bright-
ened. Now is the time to reap the fruit of all our
toils and dangers. If we behave like men, this
third campaign will be our last."
But with eleven thousand men he had to fight
eighteen thousand British. Such odds were fre-
quent throughout the war.
A battle was fought, September 11, 1777, on
the banks of a creek called the Brandy wine, within
twenty-six miles of Philadelphia, and the Americans
were defeated, though not crushed. Indeed, with
78 GEORGE WASHINGTON
such a difference in numbers and discipline, such
an outcome was well-nigh inevitable. Wash-
ington's army withdrew in good order, however,
ready for further fighting. In fact, the Americans
so harassed the approach of Cornwallis's army to
Philadelphia that two weeks passed before the
victors could enter that city.
When the news of the conflict at the Brandywine
reached Philadelphia, many of the Americans fled to
the mountains, and Congress, which was then in
session there, moved first to Lancaster and then
The British advanced on the city, with Lord
Cornwallis at their head, making a picturesque
scene which Irving has described for us : —
"Lord Cornwallis marched into Philadelphia on
the 26th with a brilliant escort, followed by splendid
legions of British and Hessian grenadiers, long
trains of artillery and squadrons of light dragoons,
stepping to the swelling music of 'God save the
King,' and presenting with their scarlet uniforms,
their glittering arms and flaunting feathers, strik-
ing contrast to the weary and wayworn troops
[the Americans] who had recently poured through
the same streets, happy if they could cover their
raggedness with brown linen hunting-frocks, or
decorate their caps with sprigs of evergreen."
DARK DAYS IN PENNSYLVANIA 79
A boy who saw the British enter Philadelphia
describes them: ^'I went up to the front rank of
the grenadiers when they had entered Second
Street. Several of them addressed me thus:
'How do you do, young one?' 'How are you,
my boy ? ' — in a brotherly tone that still seems
to vibrate in my ear. The Hessians followed in
the rear of the grenadiers. Their looks to me were
terrific, — their brass caps, their mustachios, their
countenances by nature morose, and their music
that sounded in better English than they themselves
could speak, 'Plunder! Plunder! Plunder!'"
The British were clean, healthy, and well-clad,
very different from Washington's barefooted and
ragged troops, who had earlier filled the spectators
Thus the British took possession of the capital of
the rebellious colonies, so long the object of their
awkward attempts. Washington maintained his
All through this period Washington's patience
and magnanimity never failed him. His letters to
Congress and to individuals were full of the for-
bearance of nobihty. He was never unfair, never
unjust, never vindictive. He pleads for his sol-
diers, and for as much kindness to the enemy as
possible; he reprobates dishonesty among officers
8o GEORGE WASHINGTON
and the burning of houses where the good of the
service is not promoted by it.
"The burning of houses," he writes, "where the
apparent good of the service is not promoted by it,
and the pillaging of them at all times and upon all
occasions, are to be discountenanced and punished
with the utmost severity. In short, it is to be
hoped that men who have property of their own,
and a regard for the rights of others, will shudder
at the thought of rendering any man's situation,
to whose protection he has come, more insufferable
than his open and avowed enemy would make it ;
when by duty and every rule of humanity they
ought to aid and not oppress the distressed in their
habitations. . . . Men, therefore, who are not
employed as mere hirelings, but have stepped
forth in defense of everything that is dear and
valuable, not only to themselves but to posterity,
should take pains to conduct themselves with the
greatest propriety and good order, as their honor
and reputation call loudly upon them to do it."
Observe, too, his courtesy to a captive officer : —
"Far from suffering the views of national opposi-
tion to be embittered and debased by personal
animosity, I am ever ready to do justice to the
merit of the man and soldier, and to esteem where
esteem is due, however the idea of a public enemy
Houdon's Statue of Washington
This shows our great general at the age of fifty-four, dressed in the
uniform he wore when resigning his commission at Annapolis. This
statue stands in the State Capitol at Richmond, Virginia.
DARK DAYS IN PENNSYLVANIA 8i
may interpose. You will not think it the language
of unmeaning ceremony if I add that sentiments of
personal respect, in the present instance, are
"Viewing you in the light of an officer contending
against what I conceive to be the rights of my
country, the reverses of fortune you experienced in
the field cannot be unacceptable to me; but,
abstracted from considerations of national ad-
vantage, I can sincerely sympathize with your
feeHngs as a soldier, the unavoidable difficulties
of whose situation forbade his success; and as a
man whose lot combines the calamity of ill-
health, the anxieties of captivity, and the painful
sensibility for a reputation exposed, where he most
values it, to the assaults of malice and detraction."
The next battle was fought on October 4, 1777,
at Germantown, a suburb of Philadelphia. It was
bitterly fought with varying fortune on both
sides, but eventually the Americans had to retire.
This was partly due to a dense fog that came up,
and in the uncertain light the Americans fired
into their own ranks. Nevertheless, the valor
shown added much to Washington's renown, and
Frederick the Great predicted that with such a
people under such a leader success was sure to
come. Congress, however, chose General Sullivan
82 GEORGE WASHINGTON
as a scapegoat, and court-martialed him. At
once Washington came forward as his defender
and saved him from undeserved punishment.
General Sullivan was a man of good education, an
upright statesman, and a faithful and intelligent
soldier, though in none of these spheres was he a
really commanding figure.
Less than a month after the battle of the Brandy-
wine, the Americans were cheered and encouraged
by the news of Burgoyne's surrender at Saratoga.
In this conflict General Gates won his greatest
laurels, though the victory was far from being
wholly his own. For Philip Schuyler prepared
this victory, Daniel Morgan and Benedict Arnold
did the fighting, while Gates reaped the reward.
General Horatio Gates was an EngHshman, a
godson of the famous Horace Walpole, and served
in the British army, coming to America in time to
share in the defeat of Braddock.
Gates was twice in command of the Northern
division of the American army, and had hosts of
friends who claimed that he should be commander
in chief. But he was false, hypocritical, and
constantly intriguing against Washington, though
protesting his regard for him. In August, 1780,
Lord Cornwallis put him to rout at Camden,
South Carolina, and that disaster led to his dis-
DARK DAYS IN PENNSYLVANIA 83
grace, while Washington, steadfast and modest,
pursued his way unscathed.
How magnanimous Washington was toward
him is shown by the following letter which he
wrote to the President of Congress : —
''I discovered very early in the war symptoms
of coldness and constraint in General Gates's be-
havior to me. These increased as he rose into
greater consequence; but we did not come to a
direct breach till the beginning of last year. This
was occasioned by a correspondence, which I
thought made rather free with me, between
Generals Gates and Conway, which accidentally
came to my knowledge.
"... After this affair subsided, I made a
point of treating General Gates with all the atten-
tion and cordiaHty in my power, as well from a
sincere desire of harmony as from an unwillingness
to give any cause of triumph to our enemies, from
an appearance of dissension among ourselves. I
can appeal to the whole army and to the world,
whether I have not cautiously avoided every word
or hint that could tend to disparage General Gates
in any way. I am sorry his conduct to me has
not been equally generous, and that he is continu-
ally giving me fresh proofs of malevolence and oppo-
sition. It will not be doing him injustice to say
84 GEORGE WASHINGTON
that, besides the little, underhand intrigues which he
is frequently practising, there has hardly been any
great military question in which his advice has
been asked that it has not been given in an equivo-
cal and designing manner, apparently calculated
to afford him an opportunity of censuring me on
the failure of whatever measure might be adopted.
''When I find that this gentleman does not
scruple to take the most unfair advantages of me, I
am under a necessity of explaining his conduct to
justify my own. This, and the perfect confidence
I have in you, have occasioned me to trouble you
with so free a communication of the state of things
between us. I shall still be as passive as a regard
to my own character will permit."
Besides General Gates and General Lee, Wash-
ington had a bitter enemy in General Thomas
Conway, an Irishman who had served many
years in the French army. Though the three
plotted long and secretly, their conspiracy was
foiled by Washington's evident honesty and sin-
cerity ; and the " Conway Cabal," as it was known,
dissolved in deep disgrace.
Meanwhile the British held Philadelphia, and
devoted themselves to pleasure — balls, theatrical
performances, concerts and luxuries of all kinds.
For the next six months the war stood still, and
DARK DAYS IN PENNSYLVANIA 85
there was much complaint in England against the
slothfulness of her soldiers. ''We are often told
that Mr. Washington's army is inferior in num-
bers to the British," a London newspaper said,
" — sickly, ill-clothed, dying, dispirited, and by no
means as well armed as our own troops. Why have
not the valiant, highly-disciplined and well-ap-
pointed royal veterans swept such a rabble off the
face of the universe?"
That winter at Valley Forge was full of pains,
sorrows, and discouragements for the intrenched
Americans. They were beset by hunger and
nakedness. On the 20th of December a large
number of them were without meat and had been
three whole days without bread. Evening after
evening the cry of " No meat ! No meat!" could
be heard along the line of the rude huts which had
been built for their shelter.
General Anthony Wayne reported that after
spending his private money on suppHes, one
third of his men had "no shirt under Heaven,"
and that their outer garments hung from them in
ribbons. And as their shoeless feet bled and left
crimson trails in the snow, Washington's heart
bled for them, as his appeal for succor for them met
with no response from Congress.
86 GEORGE WASHINGTON
The hospitals were full and like dungeons. Four
or five patients were known to die on the same
bed of straw before it was changed. Dysentery
and smallpox prevailed. An old man with whom
Washington lodged one day found the general in a
thicket by the roadside, on his knees in prayer,
with tears running down his cheeks. On returning
home he told his wife that the nation would surely
survive its trouble, because, if there was any one
on earth the Lord would listen to, it was George
And the poor soldier ate his bad food with
seeming control, and labored barefoot through
the mud and cold, with his shirt hanging about
him in strings, and a song in his mouth extolling
On February i6, 1778, Washington wrote to
Governor George Clinton: ''For some days past
there has been little less than a famine in the camp.
A part of the army has been a week without any
kind of flesh, and the rest three or four days.
Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough
admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of
the soldiery, that they have not been ere this
excited by their suffering to a general mutiny and
dispersion. Strong symptoms, however, of discon-
tent have appeared in particular instances, and
DARK DAYS IN PENNSYLVANIA 87
nothing but the most active efforts everywhere
can long avert so shocking a catas trophy."
There may be seen at Valley Forge to-day a beau-
tiful Arch of Triumph for which Congress, in 19 10,
appropriated $100,000. On one side is inscribed,
^'To the Ofhcers and Private Soldiers of the
Continental Army, Dec. 19, 1777- June 19, 1778.''
On the other side are these words, taken from
Washington's letter just quoted,
^' Naked and starving as they are, we cannot
enough admire the incomparable patience and
fidelity of the soldiery."
The conditions rapidly improved in the spring,
and before summer the men were well nourished
and properly clothed.
At this critical juncture, France came to the
support of the Americans. A treaty was made
between the two countries that, should war ensue
between France and England, it should be made a
common cause by the contracting parties, and that
neither should make truce with the enemy except
by joint consent, nor until the independence of the
United States was established.
"An Ocean of Difficulties"
On June 28, 1778, was fought what is known as
the battle of Monmouth, at Freehold, New Jersey.
In spite of disobedience and treachery on the part
of one of his generals, this was to prove a victory
for Washington. The command of the advance
force was offered to General Charles Lee, who at
first refused it but presently changed his mind. He
brought his troops face to face with the British,
and then, without orders, beat a shameful retreat.
Thus Washington found him.
''What is the meaning of all this, sir?" he de-
''I desire to know the meaning of this disorder
and confusion," Washington insisted.
Lee made an angry reply. His troops, he said,
had been thrown into confusion by contradictory
intelligence and by disobedience of orders, and he
had not felt disposed to beard the whole British
army under such conditions.
"AN OCEAN OF DIFFICULTIES" 89
"It is not the whole British army, merely a
strong covering party."
"A stronger party than mine," Lee replied. "I
did not think it proper to run the risk."
"You ought not to have taken command unless
you meant to fight the enemy, " Washington sternly
rejoined, and then prepared to retrieve as best he
could the fortunes of the day.
Despite Lee's disobedience and the confusion it
involved, the Americans proved the victors, for
the British were compelled to withdraw. The
day was intensely hot and many on both sides
succumbed to the heat.
The disobedient general, Charles Lee, was a
remarkable character. He was the son of a British
military officer, and is said to have held a commis-
sion when he was eleven years old. He was with
Washington at the defeat of Braddock, and later
served in the armies of Poland and Portugal.
He was restless, impetuous, and boastful, and the
Mohawks who adopted him as a natural son gave
him the name of "Boiling Water," which described
him very well.
When the Revolution broke out he abandoned
England, and took sides with the colonists, having
an eye to the better prospects that service in their
cause offered. He insisted that Congress should
90 GEORGE WASHINGTON
pay him thirty thousand dollars as an indemnity
against the probable confiscation of his estates
in England, and throughout his whole career he
was vain and selfish, though not by any means
When in June, 1776, the British were about to
attack Fort Sullivan in the harbor of Charleston,
Lee, who had been sent to take command of troops
there, went to the fort, and after a brief inspection
declared that it would be impossible to hold it and
that it was a ''slaughter pen." He wanted to
withdraw the garrison without striking a blow;
but while he was preparing to retreat, the gov-
ernor of the state gave command to Colonel
Moultrie, who won the day and thus saved the
fort, the city, and the state from the hands of
Lee's professions of attachment to the cause of
independence were insincere. He was at heart a
traitor, yet he succeeded in beguiling many people
by his dash and his persuasive talk. He was a
good letter-writer and claimed, probably without
truth, to be the author of those famous "Letters
of Junius," the source of which continues to be
one of the mysteries of literature. Some of the
ablest letters he wrote were against Washington,
whose high place he always coveted. All his
"AN OCEAN OF DIFFICULTIES" 91
plotting was ended by that court-martial which he
himself sought after the battle of Monmouth
and which led to his retirement.
Even while he was disobedient, quarrelsome, and
inefficient, the Americans did not lose faith in
him nor suspect that in his movements during the
flight of the army under Washington from the
Hudson to the Delaware, and in his movements
at the battle of Monmouth, he was seeking to
betray them. But such was the case. Eighty
years after his death, letters were found which
proved his treachery.
A fleet had arrived from France, much battered
after a tempestuous voyage, and Washington was
ordered to support it in offensive measures by sea
and land. He was to retake Rhode Island, then
in possession of the British, but the movement
failed through a complication of troubles. There
were also troubles from the Indians, and soon the
country was horrified by the massacre in the Wyo-
ming Valley of Pennsylvania.
Washington was ceaseless in his activities.
There was no relaxation of his anxieties and en-
deavors. He knew that there was no prospect of
the immediate ending of the war, though many
persons thought that England, menaced by enemies
at home, would reduce her forces here. America,
92 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Washington declared, had never stood in more
imminent need of the wise, patriotic, and spirited
exertions of her sons than at this period. He rec-
ommended a defensive policy instead of an offen-
sive one, and in the long run his advice, as usual,
proved its wisdom.
The new-born nation, if it could be called a
nation, was poverty-stricken and nearly exhausted
through lack of money. It had little but paper
money, which was worth but a fraction of its face
value. Some of the food for the army had to be
taken from the people whether they were wiUing
to sell or not, and Washington charged his officers
to act with as much consideration as possible,
graduating the exaction according to the stock of
each individual. Winter was again upon him,
moreover, and it was the coldest winter ever
known. The great bay of New York was frozen
over. Homes were torn down to make firewood.
Food was almost unprocurable. Again his troops
were half fed and half clothed. One silver dollar
was worth seventy-five dollars in bills.
A mean contractor tried to take advantage of
the soldiers by postponing the delivery of meat he
had agreed to provide, giving them instead certifi-
cates that so many pounds were due them, and
hoping that the future would enable him to make
"AN OCEAN OF DIFFICULTIES'' 93
good the deficiency at lower prices. Washington
heard of this, and ordered his arrest.
''How shall the prisoner be fed, sir?" a quarter-
"Give yourself no trouble," Washington re-
plied. "He shall be fed from my table."
Shortly afterwards a waiter in the livery of the
general was seen bearing upon a salver most of
the requisites of a meal — knives, forks, spoons,
and plate. The prisoner was flattered by the
apparent attention, but when he removed the
cover he found, instead of food, a certificate that
he was entitled to a meal !
Washington then summoned him to his presence,
and said to him, "Now, sir, you see how little the
cravings of hunger can be satisfied by a mere
certificate. I trust that you will profit by this
The conflict at Monmouth Court House was
Washington's last battle before the final victory
at Yorktown, and the main activities of the two
armies in the last years of the war were in the South.
Conflicts were to take place at Savannah, Charles-
ton, Camden, King's Mountain, the Cowpens,
and Eutaw Springs in South Carolina, and Guil-
ford Court-house in North Carolina, before Wash-
ington made his brilliant march to Yorktown
94 GEORGE WASHINGTON
and gained the victory which virtually ended the
At one time several British vessels lay off Mount
Vernon, and fearing an attack, Washington's
overseer endeavored to prevent this by taking food
to them. Washington disapproved of this and
wrote to the overseer as follows : —
"I am very sorry to hear of your loss; I am a
little sorry to hear of my own; but that which
gives me most concern is that you should go on
board an enemy's vessel and furnish them with
refreshments: It would have been a less painful
circumstance to me to have heard that, in conse-
quence of your non-compliance with their request,
they had burnt my house and laid the plantation
in ruins. You ought to have considered yourself
as my representative, and should have reflected
on the bad example of communicating with the
enemy, and making a voluntary offer of refresh-
ments to them with a view to prevent a conflagra-
tion. It was not in your power, I acknowledge,
to prevent them from sending a flag on shore, and
you did right to meet it; but you should, in the
same instant that the business of it was unfolded,
have declared explicitly that it was improper for
you to yield to their request ; after which, if they
had proceeded to help themselves by force, you
"AN OCEAN OF DIFFICULTIES" 95
could but have submitted ; and being unprovided
for defense, this was to be preferred to a feeble
opposition, which only served as a pretext to burn
With all his gravity through these anxious and
distressing times, Washington has some playful
moods. Let us then quote from another letter of
his inviting a friend, Dr. Cochran, to dinner in
"I have asked Mrs. Cochran and Mrs. Livingston
to dine with me to-morrow, but am I not in honor
bound to apprize them of their fare? As I hate
deception, even where the imagination only is con-
cerned, I will. It is needless to premise that my
table is large enough to hold the ladies. Of this
they had ocular proof yesterday. To say how it is
usually covered is rather more essential, and this
shall be the purport of my letter.
''Since our arrival at this happy spot, we have
had a ham, sometimes a shoulder of bacon, to
grace the head of the table ; a piece of roast beef
adorns the foot, and a dish of beans or greens, al-
most imperceptible, decorates the center. When
the cook has a mind to cut a figure, which I pre-
sume will be the case to-morrow, we have two
beefsteak pies, or dishes of crab, dividing the
space and reducing the distance between dish and
96 GEORGE WASHINGTON
dish, to about six feet, which without them would
be nearly twelve feet apart. Of late he has had
the surprising sagacity to discover that apples
will make pies, and it is a question if, in the vio-
lence of his efforts, we do not get one of the apples
instead of having both the beefsteaks. If the
ladies can put up with such entertainment, and
will submit to partake of it on plates once tin but
now iron (not become so by the labor of scouring)
I shall be happy to see them."
Jocularly as he writes of it, such a meal was
a feast to him and far beyond what he usually
received. He wanted nothing more than his
soldiers got. He sympathized with the meanest
of them. His heart toward them was a fountain
of justice and kindness.
The End of the War
The British army was now divided into two
parts, one in New York and the other, under
Lord Cornwallis, in the South. Washington de-
cided to unite his own armies, and completely to
crush Cornwallis. It was necessary for this that
Sir Henry Clinton, the general in charge of the
British forces in New York, should be kept in
ignorance of Washington's intentions and be led
to suppose that he was in danger of attack. Fic-
titious letters were allowed to reach him describ-
ing movements which Washington was supposed
to contemplate, and while his antagonist was thus
deceived, Washington, leaving but a few of his
men at White Plains, hurried into Virginia, where
at Mount Vernon he was joined by Count Rocham-
beau. Lord CornwalHs was then at York town, and
it was Washington's aim to capture him before he
could be reinforced by Clinton.
This was to be the decisive battle of the war,
98 GEORGE WASHINGTON
and Washington himself put the match to the first
gun that was fired.
Cornwallis was surprised by the appearance of
the fleet of the French Count de Grasse within
the capes of the Delaware, and his retreat was cut
off in every direction, though he had fortified the
town. That night Washington slept on the
ground without covering, and with the root of a
mulberry tree for a pillow. The next day the two
armies confronted each other.
Cornwallis received dispatches from Sir Henry
Clinton, informing him that a fleet of twenty-
three ships, with about five thousand troops,
would sail to his assistance at once. Then he
abandoned his outworks and withdrew his forces
within the town. This move proved a mistake,
for the next morning the outworks were taken by
the Americans. Before the fleet arrived, however,
the battle had begun. The cannonade was kept
up almost incessantly for three or four days. The
enemy suffered severely ; guns were dismounted or
silenced and many were killed. Four of their ships
were set on fire. But in turn the British harassed
the Americans and opened a galKng fire upon them.
Washington watched the progress of the battle
from an exposed position, and one of his aides
called his attention to his peril.
THE END OF THE WAR 99
*'If you think the position is dangerous," he
said quietly and without moving, ''you are at
liberty to step back."
Soon afterwards a musket-ball fell at his feet.
General Knox grasped his arm, exclaiming, "My
dear general, we can't afford to spare you yet 1"
''It is a spent ball and no harm is done," Wash-
ington replied calmly.
Washington indeed was always calm, and never
took thought of the value of his own life. Where
others grew excited, he was unmoved. Fear never
entered his great soul. In the presence of danger
he was a man of iron.
The position of the enemy became impossible,
and Cornwallis attempted an escape. His plan
was to cross the river in the night and, turning
northward, to rejoin Sir Henry Clinton in New
York by forced marches. But a violent storm in-
terfered with his project, and he sent a letter to
Washington proposing an armistice, which ended
in his surrender.
The prisoners numbered more than seven thou-
sand. The cry of victory spread from the camp
to the nation, and the news, " Cornwallis is taken ! "
echoed and reechoed throughout the land. When
the British prime minister. Lord North, heard it,
he received it as if it were "a ball in his heart."
lOO GEORGE WASHINGTON
But while it produced consternation in England,
our whole country gave itself up to transports of
There was still much discontent in the Ameri-
can army, however. Neither men nor officers had
received their pay, and many of them were still
badly provided for. A lady has described the
difference she saw between the Americans and the
British, as the former entered New York and the
latter were leaving.
''We had been accustomed for a long time to
military display in all the finish and finery of garri-
son Hf e ; the troops just leaving were equipped as
if for show, and with their scarlet uniforms and
burnished arms made a brilKant display; the
troops that marched in, on the contrary, were ill-
clad, and weather-beaten, and made a forlorn ap-
pearance ; but then they were our troops, and as
I looked at them, and thought of all they had done
and suffered for us, my heart and my eyes were
full, and I admired and gloried in them the more,
because they were weather-beaten and forlorn."
So great was the discontent and dissatisfaction
with the government at this time that one officer,
a friend of Washington, who may have been the
mouthpiece of others, boldly suggested to him
that the government should be changed to a
THE END OF THE WAR loi
monarchy, and that he should be king ; but George
Washington had no ambition to make himself para-
mount at the cost of others — no ambition but to
see his country free and prosperous.
"With a mixture of great surprise and astonish-
ment, I have read the sentiments you have sub-
mitted to my perusal!" he said. "Be assured,
sir, no occurrence in the course of the war has
given me more painful sensations than your infor-
mation of there being such ideas existing in the army
as you have expressed, and I must view them with
abhorrence and reprehend them with severity. For
the present, the communication of them will rest in
my own bosom, unless some further agitation of
the matter shall make a disclosure necessary. I
am much at a loss to conceive what part of my
conduct could have given encouragement to an
address, which, to me, seems big with the greatest
mischief which can befall my country. If I am
not deceived in the knowledge of myself, you could
not have found a person to whom your schemes
are more disagreeable. At the same time, in jus-
tice to my own feelings, I must add that no man
possesses a more sincere wish to see justice done
to the army than I do ; and as far as my powers
and influence in a constitutional way extend, they
shall be employed to the utmost of my abiHties to
I02 GEORGE WASHINGTON
effect it, should there be occasion. Let me conjure
you, then, if you have any regard for your coun-
try, concern for yourself, or for posterity, or respect
for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind,
and never communicate, as from yourself or any-
one else, a sentiment of a like nature."
More sedition appeared at Newburgh on the
Hudson, where a notice was issued calling a meet-
ing of the officers to consider what could be done
for the rehef of the army. It threatened to compel
Congress to attend to their demands, and might
have led to another revolution. But Washington
addressed them and won them over to peaceful
measures. Not being a ready speaker, he read
from notes what he had to say, and at the end of
the first sentence said, as he put on his spectacles,
''Gentlemen, you will pardon me for putting on
my glasses. I have grown gray in your service
and now feel myself growing blind."
The pathos of that at once touched them, and
they gave an attentive ear to all that followed.
''If my conduct heretofore has not indicated to
you that I have been a faithful friend to the army,
my declaration of it at this time would be equally
unavailing and improper. But as I was one of the
first who embarked in the cause of our common
country ; as I have never left your side one moment,
THE END OF THE WAR 103
save when called from you on public duty; as I
have been the constant companion and witness of
your distress, and not among the last to feel and
to acknowledge your merit ; as I have considered
my own military reputation as inseparably con-
nected with that of the army; as my heart has
ever expanded with joy when I have heard its
praises, and my indignation has risen when the
mouth of detraction has been opened against it,
it can scarcely be supposed, at this stage of the
war, that I am indifferent to its interests."
What wonderful words these are, coming from
a man who had so few educational opportunities in
his youth ! They are so correct and yet so full of
feeling, so sincere and so well-balanced that they
would do credit to a scholar. Indeed, hundreds
of scholars never learn to write so well. It is evi-
dent that he profited by reading the masters of
English prose, whose works, including ^'The Spec-
tator," Lord Fairfax lent him in his youth. Lord
Fairfax was a man of fine literary taste, and had
himself been, it is said, a contributor to ''The
Spectator," and had numbered among his friends
the great authors, Addison and Steele.
The army was reconciled and remained loyal to
the government. But Washington saw that some
changes were necessary. He saw that thirteen
104 GEORGE WASHINGTON
independent states, under thirteen independent
governments, would not work smoothly together,
and he proposed an indissoluble union of the states
under one head, the payment of all debts contracted
by the country during the war, and the establish-
ment of a uniform militia system. As we know,
his advice was taken.
At last the patriot army was disbanded, and
before his departure for Philadelphia, Washing-
ton took touching leave of his officers at Fraunces
Tavern, which still stands in Broad Street, New
York. As he said ^'good-by" to them he could
scarcely control his voice. "I cannot come to
each of you to take my leave," he said, *'but shall
be obliged if each of you will come and take me
by the hand. With a heart full of love and grati-
tude I now take leave of you, most devoutly wish-
ing that your latter days may be as prosperous and
happy as your former ones have been glorious and
Tears were in his eyes. "The deep feeling and
manly tenderness of those veterans in the parting
moment could find no utterance in words,'' says
Washington Irving. "Silent and solemn they
followed their loved commander as he left the
room, passed through a corps of light infantry,
and proceeded on foot to Whitehall Ferry. Hav-
This famous old building, in which Washington took leave of his gen-
erals on December 4, 1783, is still standing, as shown. It contains many
valuable Revolutionary relics, open to public inspection every week-day.
THE END OF THE WAR T05
ing entered the barge, he turned to them, took off
his hat, and waved a silent adieu. They replied in
the same manner, and having watched the barge
until the intervening point of the Battery shut it
from sight, returned, still solemn and silent, to
the place where they had assembled."
The war had lasted eight years to a day.
While the capital was then at Annapolis, the
Treasury Department was in Philadelphia, and
there Washington presented his accounts. These
were all in his own handwriting, and all exact.
He had refused pay for himself, and had not
charged for some of the money he had spent.
His progress in the direction of Annapolis was a
succession of welcomes. Everywhere he was hailed
with enthusiasm and greeted with addresses by
legislative assemblies and learned and religious
societies. ^'He accepted them all with that
modesty inherent in his nature, little thinking that
his present popularity was but the early outbreak-
ing of a fame that was to go on widening and
deepening from generation to generation, and ex-
tending over the whole civilized world."
Arrived at Annapolis, he sent a letter to the
President of Congress asking whether it would be
most proper for him to present his resignation in
writing or orally, and the latter mode was chosen.
io6 GEORGE WASHINGTON
The hall was crowded with pubHc functionaries,
the military, and ladies, all in a state of subdued
awe and excitement.
*'The great events on which my resignation
depended having at length taken place, I now have
the honor of offering my sincere congratulations
to Congress," said Washington, ''and of present-
ing myself before them, to surrender into their
hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the
indulgence of retiring from the service of my
^'I consider it an indispensable duty to close this
last solemn act of my official life, by commending
the interests of our dearest country to the protec-
tion of Almighty God, and those who have the
superintendence of them, to His holy keeping.
Having now finished the work assigned to me, I
retire from the great theater of action, and bid-
ding an affectionate farewell to this august body,
under whose orders I have long acted, I here offer
my commission, and take my leave of all the
employments of public life."
One who was present says, "Few tragedies ever
drew so many tears from so many beautiful eyes,
as the moving manner in which his Excellency
took his final leave of Congress."
In accepting the commission, the President of
THE END OF THE WAR 107
Congress declared to Washington, "You retire
from the theater of action with the blessings of
your fellow-citizens, but the glory of your virtues
will not terminate with your military command;
it will continue to animate remotest ages."
The next morning, which was Christmas Day,
Washington went home to Mount Vernon.
"The scene is at last closed," he said. "I feel
myself eased of a load of public cares. I hope to
spend the remainder of my days in cultivating the
affections of good men, and in the practice of the
Arnold and Andre
Benedict Arnold was one of the most coura-
geous and brilliant generals of the army. He served
in the Ticonderoga expedition, and marched
through the wilderness to Canada, overcoming great
difficulties and earning Washington's heartiest ap-
proval. In his attack on Quebec he led his troops
up the crags once scaled by General Wolfe, and
planted his flag on the famed Heights of Abraham.
He was in favor of an immediate dash on the city,
but his associates discouraged him, and while
they delayed, the small garrison within the walls
TTie cry arose, ''The enemy is on the Heights of
Abraham ! The gate of St. John is open !"
Arnold took his men within a hundred yards of
the wall, and sent a flag demanding, in the name
of the United Colonies, an immediate surrender.
He was not strong enough to force what he de-
manded, however. Washington wrote to him,
paraphrasing a couplet in "Cato" by Addison,
ARNOLD AND ANDRE 109
"It is not in the pow€r of man to command suc-
cess, but you have done more, you have deserved
it." General Montgomery also praised him.
"Arnold is active, intelHgent, and enterprising," he
Montgomery came to his help, and together
they attacked the city. Montgomery was killed
and Arnold wounded.
"Defeated and wounded as he was," says a
contemporary writer, "he put his troops into such
a situation as to keep them still formidable.
With a mere handful of men, at one time not
exceeding five hundred, he maintained a blockade
of the strong fortress from which he had just been
"I am in the way of my duty, and I know no
fear," he declared.
"Happy for him had he fallen at this moment,"
Irving wrote. "Happy for him had he found a
soldier's and a patriot's grave beneath the rock-
built walls of Quebec. Those walls would have
remained enduring monuments of his renown.
His name, like that of Montgomery, would have
been treasured up among the dearest recollections
of his country, and that country would have been
spared the traitorous blot that dims the bright
page of its revolutionary history."
no GEORGE WASHINGTON
Arnold was no less distinguished for his valor
than for his strategy. He won more laurels at
Lake Champlain and everywhere proved his
*' I need not enlarge upon his well-known activity,
conduct, and bravery," said Washington when
writing of Arnold. ''The proofs he has given of all
these have gained him the confidence of the public
and of the army, the Eastern troops in particular.''
In 1777, five of his inferiors in rank were pro-
moted over his head to be major-generals, and he
felt the reflection on his character keenly, though
he allowed himself to be induced by Washington
to retain his position in the army. At Saratoga he
was again severely wounded. He himself said,
"No public or private injury shall prevail on me
to forsake the cause of my injured and oppressed
country, until I see peace and liberty restored to
her, or nobly die in the attempt."
Through his temper, which was violent, he
made many enemies, however, and he never forgot
the insult put upon him by the promotion of his
He married Miss Margaret Shippen, of Phila-
delphia, and it was at her father's house that he
probably met a young British officer. Major John
Andre, of whom we shall hear more.
ARNOLD AND ANDRE iii
Arnold's conduct in the management of affairs
while he was in command in Philadelphia caused
much public dissatisfaction, and he himself re-
quested Congress to direct a court-martial to in-
vestigate. He was acquitted, but Congress soon
reopened the matter under two charges, and he was
ordered to be reprimanded by the commander in
This delicate duty Washington would probably
have evaded had it been possible to do so without
disobedience to superior authority, but he did it
with the utmost delicacy.
His words are: —
*'Our profession is the chastest of all: even the
shadow of a fault tarnishes the luster of our finest
achievements. The least inadvertence may rob
us of the public favor, so hard to be acquired. I
reprehend you for having forgotten, that, in pro-
portion as you had rendered yourself formidable
to our enemies, you should have been guarded
and temperate in your deportment towards your
fellow-citizens. Exhibit anew those noble quali-
ties which have placed you on the list of our most
valued commanders. I will myself furnish you,
so far as it may be within my power, with oppor-
tunities for regaining the esteem of your country."
Arnold continued to feel that his sentence was
112 GEORGE WASHINGTON
unmerited, and undoubtedly nursed his grievances
more than a better-balanced man would have.
Many persons are of the opinion that he was
treated with animosity instead of fairness.
True to his word, Washington soon gave him
an opportunity to recover public confidence by
appointing him to command of the fortress of
West Point and all the posts from Fishkill to
King's Ferry, and nothing could have better
shown Washington's own faith in him than this.
But he was disaffected. When the idea of
treason first entered his mind we do not know.
It probably grew like a worm in the bud, flashing
upon him at secret intervals, at first with fear and
shame, a thing so horrible to himself that he en-
deavored to shut it from him and discard it, then
reasserting itself until at last it became famihar,
reasonable, and endurable.
Andre became his chief instrument, and such
treachery as he contemplated must have been a
shock to both of them, and reduced their once
open communications to stealthy whisperings in
Andre's own principles must have revolted, for
he was not only a man of intelHgence and grace,
but hitherto a man of honor. He was an officer
of the Royal Fusileers, and had become aid-de-
ARNOLD AND ANDR£ 113
camp successively to General Grey and to Sir
Henry Clinton, with the rank of major. He was
only twenty- three years old. His varied talents
and engaging manners made him very popular,
and he had many accomplishments. He was
manager, actor, and scene-painter in those amateur
theatricals in which the British officers delighted,
and was a writer of amusing rhymes.
What Arnold proposed was the delivery of West
Point, where he was stationed, to the British. He
opened a correspondence with Sir Henry CHnton
in a disguised handwriting, representing himself as
a person of importance in the American army,
who wished to join the cause of England if he
could be assured of personal security and in-
demnity for whatever loss in property he might
suffer. A British fleet under Admiral Rodney
was to go up the Hudson to the Highlands at
West Point, which would be surrendered by
Arnold without opposition under the pretext that
he had not a sufficient force to make resistance,
and it was calculated that the immediate result
would be the collapse of the American plans.
Arnold met Andre for a conference at mid-
night at the foot of a lonely and shadowy moun-
tain called Long Clove, and the conference was
carried on in darkness among the trees. They
114 GEORGE WASHINGTON
talked in hushed and nervous voices, afraid of
interruption, each alert for every sound. Morn-
ing came before they had finished, and then
Andre, in possession of the plans of West Point,
was persuaded by Arnold to return to New York
by land instead of by water, though the ship Vulture
was close at hand to receive him.
Arnold gave him a pass which read, *' Permit
Mr. John Anderson [the name which Andre had
chosen] to pass the guards to White Plains, or
below, if he desires, he being on public business
by my direction."
Arnold left him at ten o^clock in the morning,
and Andre passed a long day, attended by one
Smith, who had come with Arnold. He glanced
at the Vulture and wished himself on board, for
once there he would be safe.
At about sunset Andre and Smith crossed the
river from King's Ferry to Verplanck's Point, and
between eight and nine o'clock they were stopped
by a patrolKng party. Arnold's pass protected
them, though the man in charge was suspicious.
A farmhouse was pointed out to them, at which
they spent an uneasy night, and the next day
they separated, Smith returning home and Andre
going toward New York. He had not gone far
when a man stepped out from some trees and
ARNOLD AND ANDRE 115
leveled a musket at him, bringing him to a stand,
while two other men, also armed, appeared im-
mediately afterwards. The first man wore a
Hessian coat — the uniform of the German allies
of the English — and Andre rejoiced in suppos-
ing himself among friends.
He exclaimed eagerly, "Gentlemen, I hope you
belong to our party."
"What party?" they asked.
"The British," he said incautiously.
"We do," was the reply.
So, full of confidence, Andre admitted himself
to be an English officer, and declared that he must
not be delayed a moment, for he had to reach the
British headquarters as soon as possible.
Suddenly the supposed Hessian turned upon
him and said, "You are our prisoner. We are
The speaker was a young patriot, John Paulding,
who had twice been captured by the British and
twice shut up in their prisons. The Hessian coat,
which had deceived Andre and been the cause of
his betrayal, had been given to him by one of his
captors in exchange for a better garment.
Andre was full of surprise and consternation at
the turn of events, but he was a man of resource,
and laughed in Paulding's face.
ii6 GEORGE WASHINGTON
"Why," he declared, ''I am joking. I am not
English, but an American going down to Dobbs
Ferry to get information from below. See !"
And he produced Arnold's pass.
They read it and at first were half induced to
believe him, but Paulding insisted on searching
him. One after another his garments were re-
moved, without revealing anything incriminating,
when Paulding, more suspicious than the others,
exclaimed, *'Boys, I am not satisfied. His boots
must come off."
And then the hidden documents were dis-
Andre made offer after offer to buy his freedom.
"I will give you a hundred guineas," he said.
"No," they repHed.
"I will give you a hundred guineas, and my
horse, saddle, and bridle."
"I will give you anything you ask!" he con-
At this point Paulding cried out, "No, no, no!
Not if you gave us ten thousand guineas 1"
The papers found on Andre were sent to Wash-
ington, accompanied by a dignified letter in which
he said, "The request I have made to your Excel-
lency, and I am conscious I address myself well,
ARNOLD AND ANDRE 117
is that in any rigor policy may dictate, a decency
of conduct towards me may mark that, though
unfortunate, I am branded with nothing dis-
honorable, as no motive could be mine but the
service of my King."
The British, of course, made every effort in
behalf of Andre, but Washington was obdurate
and would entertain no thought of his pardon.
On one condition only would he release him, and
that was that Arnold should be exchanged for him.
This the British refused to do, and Andre was exe-
cuted at Tappan, whence in 182 1 his remains were
taken to Westminster Abbey, where they now lie.
On the very day the treasonable conference
between Arnold and Andre took place, Washing-
ton left Hartford for his headquarters on the
Hudson, sending in advance a letter to Arnold,
saying that he would breakfast with him.
He delayed on the way, and when the Marquis
Lafayette called his attention to the fact that he
would be late for breakfast, he said, "You young
men are all in love with Mrs. Arnold. I see you
are eager to be with her as soon as possible. Go
you, then, and breakfast with her, and tell her
not to wait for me. I must ride down and examine
the redoubts on this side of the river, and will be
with her shortly."
Ii8 GEORGE WASHINGTON
But Lafayette and General Knox remained with
Washington. The news of their movements
reached Arnold before they appeared, and while
he and his wife sat at breakfast, a messenger came
with a letter announcing Andre's arrest. Arnold
was panic-stricken, and taking his wife aside and
confessing his treason to her, hastened to a barge
and fled down the river.
When Washington heard of all that had happened,
he said sadly, as he told Lafayette and General
Knox of it, "Whom can we trust now?''
An effort was made to intercept Arnold in his
flight, but he succeeded in getting safely on board
the British ship Vulture.
Soon afterwards Washington received a letter
from Arnold in which the traitor tried to justify
himself. "The heart which is conscious of its
own rectitude," he wrote, "cannot attempt to
palliate a step which the world may censure as
wrong ; I have ever acted from a principle of love
to my country, since the commencement of the
present unhappy contest between Great Britain
and the colonies; the same principle of love to
my country actuates my present conduct, how-
ever it may appear inconsistent to the world, who
seldom judge right of any man's action. I ask
no favor for myself. I have too often experienced
ARNOLD AND ANDR£ 119
the ingratitude of my country to attempt it, but,
from the known humanity of your Excellency, I
am induced to ask your protection for Mrs. Arnold
from every insult and injury that a mistaken
vengeance by my country may expose her to.
It ought to fall only on me; she is as good and
as innocent as an angel, and is incapable of doing
Washington sympathized with this letter, and
writing to Mrs. Arnold he informed her that while
he had done all he could to arrest her husband,
he had some pleasure in assuring her that the cul-
prit had escaped.
Washington was not satisfied with letting Arnold
escape with no other punishment than that in-
flicted by his own conscience. He discovered where
the traitor was living, and formed a plan to cap-
ture him and bring him back to the American camp.
Sending for ''Light Horse Harry" Lee, Washing-
ton said, "1 have sent for you, Major Lee, in the
expectation that you have in your corps individuals
capable and willing to undertake a hazardous proj-
ect. Whoever comes foward on this occasion will
place me under great obligations personally, and
in behalf of the United States I will reward him
amply. No time is to be lost. He must proceed
I20 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Washington explained that Arnold was quartered
next door to Sir Henry Clinton, the British general,
at what was until recently No. 3 Broadway, and
that he moved about the city carelessly, so that
with some daring he might be seized and carried
back within the American lines. To achieve his
purpose it would be necessary for the man who
attempted it to take the part of a deserter from
the American army.
^Xight Horse Harry" knew the very man for
the task, the sergeant major of his cavalry, John
Champe, who though reluctant to even appear as
a deserter, obeyed the orders given him, and was
pursued by others of his corps, who fully believed
that he was the deserter he appeared. They
chased him as far as Bergen, and there he hailed
some British ships, one of which took him on
board. He had brought his orderly book and
other documents with him to support his claim
that he was a deserter and that he, a traitor like
Arnold himself, was ready to supply the British
The captain of the ship believed his story, and
landing him in New York, gave him a letter to
The faithfulness of the regiment from which he
appeared to have deserted was well known in the
ARNOLD AND ANDRE I2I
British army, and what he had done was regarded
as a sign of increasing dissatisfaction in the Ameri-
can army. So sincere appeared his desire to serve
the king that he almost at once established him-
self in the confidence of Sir Henry.
At that very time Arnold was forming a legion
of royalists and deserters, and to him Champe was
sent as a recruit.
In the rear of Arnold's quarters was a garden
running down to the water's edge, and Champe
ascertained that it was Arnold's custom to walk
here at a certain hour of the evening before going
to bed. He accordingly arranged to kidnap him
one night and to convey him to a boat which
would be waiting on the river. If there was inter-
ference, Champe and his two confederates would
say that they were conveying a drunken man to
the guardhouse. Every precaution was taken.
The raihngs of the garden were loosened, so that
they could easily be lifted out to give access to the
street, and when all had been arranged, Champe
wrote to "Light Horse Harry" Lee, informing him
of the night on which the adventure would take
place. Lee was to meet him in some woods on
the Hoboken shore, with three horses, and then
they were to make all speed to the American camp.
Lee concealed himself at the appointed place,
122 GEORGE WASHINGTON
and waited there till dawn, when he returned to
camp greatly disappointed. Champe's plans had
failed. On the very day he had fixed for the cap-
ture, Arhold changed his quarters, and instead of
crossing the Hudson that night, Champe was
ordered on board a British ship for Virginia, which
carried part of an expedition under Arnold.
It was long afterwards that he made his escape
from the British camp, and Arnold probably never
knew how nearly this trooper under him had
delivered him into the hands of General Washington.
Arnold, under the terms he had exacted before-
hand, was made a brigadier-general in the British
army and was paid a large sum of money by the
British. He pubHshed an address in which he
endeavored to vindicate himself. He said he con-
sidered the Declaration of Independence unwise,
and he protested against the treaty with France,
"a proud, ancient, and crafty foe, the enemy of
the Protestant faith and of real liberty.'' But he
never ceased to be held in contempt by both the
British and the Americans, and never found a
friend among those to whom he had sold himself.
Our final glimpse of Arnold is pitiable. During
the last days of his life, which were passed in
London, his mind constantly reverted to his old
friendship with Washington.
ARNOLD AND ANDRE 123
His American uniform he had always kept, and
when he felt that his end was near he put it on.
''Let me die," he said, ''in this old uniform in
which I fought my battles. May God forgive me
for ever putting on any other."
Our First President
Though he was supposed to be resting there,
Washington found plenty to do on his return to
Mount Vernon. Crowds of visitors came to see
him there, and all spoke of his simplicity. "My
manner of living is plain," he himself said, "and
I do not mean to be put out of it. A glass of wine
and a bit of mutton are always ready, and such as
will be content to partake of them are always
welcome. Those who expect more will be dis-
The estate had suffered from neglect and the
ravages of war, and it was his desire to restore it to
its former perfection. "The more I am acquainted
with agricultural affairs," he wrote to a friend in
England, "the better I am pleased with them,
insomuch that I can nowhere find so much satis-
faction as in those innocent and useful pursuits."
A visitor to Mount Vernon at this time de-
scribed his experience thus : "I trembled with awe
as I came into the presence of the great man. I
OUR FIRST PRESIDENT 125
found him at table with Mrs. Washington and her
grandchildren, where he soon put me at my ease
by unbending in a free and affable conversation.
I observed a peculiarity in his smile which seemed
to illuminate his eye; his whole countenance
beamed with intelligence, while it commanded
confidence and respect. I found him kind and
benignant in the domestic circle ; revered and be-
loved by all around him.''
His servants seemed to watch his eye, and to
anticipate his every wish. He seldom laughed,
though his smile was frequent. His responsibili-
ties hung heavily upon him. He was conscien-
tious in the highest degree, and let nothing pass
without weighing it.
One more picture of the domestic life at Mount
Vernon, this written by a friend of Nellie Custis,
Mrs. Washington's granddaughter : —
"When ten o'clock came, Mrs. Washington re-
tired and her granddaughter accompanied her,
and read a chapter and a psalm from the old
family Bible. All then knelt together in prayer,
and when Mrs. Washington's maid had prepared
her for bed, Nellie sang a soothing hymn, and lean-
ing over her, received from her some words of
counsel and her kiss and blessing."
That granddaughter states that Washington
126 GEORGE WASHINGTON
spoke little, and never of himself. ''I never heard
him relate a single act of his life during the war,"
Though he was stately in manner, he was modest.
His equanimity showed itself on all occasions, and
in all things he was without the least taint of self-
consciousness. Had we met him in the grounds
of Mount Vernon as he went about planting and
transplanting, surveying his acres with all the
love and knowledge of a woodsman and gardener,
we should have taken him for an amiable country
gentleman, rather than for one of the most famous
men in the world, whose name was now on every
lip. He would have been quite silent about him-
self, but eloquent about his trees and crops and
Literary men begged material for memoirs
from Washington, and portrait painters gave him
no rest ; all of them wanted to write about him
or to paint his portrait.
He said, *''In for a penny, in for a pound,' is an
old adage. I am so hackneyed to the touch of
painter's pencils, that I am now altogether at their
beck, and sit, like patience on a monument, whilst
they are delineating the Hues of my face. It is a
proof, among many others, of what habit and cus-
tom can accomplish."
OUR FIRST PRESIDENT 127
"I found," wrote Stuart, the artist, "that it
was difficult to interest him in conversation while
I was taking his portrait. I began on the revolu-
tion — the battles of Monmouth and Princeton,
but he was absolutely dumb. After a while I
got on horses. Then I touched the right chord."
All the time, however, he was thinking of the
future of his country, and he was one of the first
to perceive the greatness of its destiny, especially
the possibilities of the West. The thirteen states
were jealous of each other and discontented. Vir-
ginia wanted one thing, New York another, and
New England another. All were at variance.
He saw the necessity of bringing them together
and creating a national feeling among them.
They were eager to preserve their own sovereignty
and to be independent of one another.
As Senator Henry Cabot Lodge has written,
"Washington at a single step passed from being a
Virginian to being an American, and in so doing
he stood alone."
Among his plans was one to open the western
country by means of inland navigation. For this
purpose he revived a company which had been
abandoned on account of the war, and when a
bonus in the form of stock in the company was
offered to him he refused it, saying that he thought
128 GEORGE WASHINGTON
it would make him look like a pensioner or depend-
ent to accept such a gratuity. At last he was
persuaded to take it, but he did not keep it for
himself; he endowed two schools with it, and
they are to this day enjoying the income.
Against obstacles and delays he persisted in his
ideal, and only by prodigious labor achieved it.
On September 17, 1787, the Constitution of the
United States was adopted by the convention that
formulated it, and it may be said that Washington
was the father of it. Then a President was
needed, and against his wishes he was unanimously
chosen for that high ofhce. The long rest he had
contemplated was not for him.
"At ten o'clock," he writes in his diary, "I bade
adieu to Mount Vernon, to private life, and to
domestic felicity ; and with a mind oppressed with
more anxious and painful sensations than I have
words to express, set out for New York, with the
best disposition to render service to my country,
in obedience to its call, but with less hope of
answering its expectations."
To his friend General Knox, he wrote, "My
movements to the chair of government will be
accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a cul-
prit who is going to the place of his execution, so
unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly
OUR FIRST PRESIDENT 129
consumed in public affairs, to quit a peacefuL
abode for an ocean of difficulties, without the com-
petency of political skill, abilities, and inclination,
which are necessary to manage the helm. . . .
Integrity and firmness are all I can promise.
These, be the voyage long or short, shall never
forsake me, although I may be deserted by all
men, for of the consolations which are to be derived
from these, under any circumstances, the world
cannot deprive me."
There is a letter of his showing the humility
with which he approached the responsibilities of
his new position : —
"I greatly fear that my countrymen will expect
too much from me. I fear, if the issue of public
measures should not correspond with their sanguine
expectations, they will turn the extravagant, and I
might say undue praises, which they are heaping
on me at this moment, into equally extravagant,
though I will fondly hope unwonted, censures."
On this Washington Irving commented thus :
*' Little was his modest spirit aware that the praises
so dubiously received were but the opening notes
of a theme that was to increase from age to age,
to pervade all lands, and endure throughout all
At Alexandria some friends gave him a farewell
I30 GEORGE WASHINGTON
dinner. "All that now remains for me," he said
on that occasion, ''is to commit myself and you
to the care of that Being who, on a former occasion,
happily brought us together after a long and dis-
tressing separation. Perhaps the same gracious
Providence will again indulge me. But words
fail me. Unutterable sensations must then be left
to more expressive silence, while from an aching
heart I bid all my affectionate friends and kind
Great honors came to him on his way to New
York. Every village and town turned out to see
him and greet him. He entered Philadelphia under
triumphal arches, and young girls walked before
him, singing and strewing flowers.
At Trenton, where twelve years before he had
crossed the Delaware in darkness and storm, the
sun now shone. On the bridge that covers the river,
the ladies of the town had erected another triumphal
arch, bearing an inscription, ''The defender of the
mothers will be the protector of the daughters."
At Elizabeth he was met by congressional com-
mittees, and he went on board a barge manned by
thirteen pilots in white uniform, who rowed him
to New York. The vessels in the harbor, dressed
in flags, fired salutes in his honor. Music mingled
with the sound of the guns.
OUR FIRST PRESIDENT 131
On April 30 he was inaugurated in New York
City. There were religious services in all the
churches, and prayers were murmured for the
blessing of Heaven on the new government. At
twelve o'clock the city troops paraded in front of
his house, and half an hour later he rode in a state
carriage to the hall where the Sub-Treasury now
stands in Wall Street, followed or preceded by the
troops, his aid-de-camp, various officials, foreign
ministers, and a long train of citizens.
The Vice-President, John Adams, the Senate,
and the House of Representatives were assembled.
In the center of a balcony was a table, covered
with crimson velvet, on which rested a beautiful
Bible. There the ceremony was performed in
presence of crowds of people, and when he appeared
he was greeted with the greatest enthusiasm. He
was much agitated by the welcome the people
gave him. Advancing to the front of the table,
he put his hand on his heart, bowed several times,
and then sat on a chair near the table. The Bible
was held up to him on a crimson cushion, and he
reverently placed his hand upon it as he received
the oath of office.
Very solemnly he said, "I swear — so help me
The Chancellor of the State of New York then
132 GEORGE WASHINGTON
exclaimed, "Long live George Washington, Presi-
dent of the United States!"
Artillery was discharged, and all the bells of the
city rang out in joyful peals, while the cheering
was so loud and continuous that it almost drowned
the guns and the bells.
Another service was held in St. Paul's Church,
the church that still stands on Broadway, and the
remainder of the day was spent in feasting and
Washington's married life was a very happy
one, and Martha, his wife, was his almost insepa-
rable companion. At the age of seventeen she
became the reigning belle of Virginia society, and
at that early age married her first husband, Daniel
Parke Custis, much older than herself, who died
seven years later, leaving her with two children.
A year afterwards, when she was visiting a
friend, a young officer called at the house and was
about to depart in a hurry, being engaged in im-
portant government business, when the host, wish-
ing to keep him overnight, promised him that if
he would stay he should be introduced to one of
the most charming and richest widows in all
The widow was Martha Custis, and the young
officer was George Washington He rode the
chestnut brown horse which General Braddock
had given him, and was attended as usual by
134 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Braddock's old servant, Bishop. So he was pre-
vailed on to stay, and that evening met for the
first time the lady who was destined to become his
wife. His name was, of course, very familiar to
her, and he appeared in the light of a hero to her,
for Virginia was then resounding with his praises.
''There was an urchin [Cupid] in the drawing
room, more powerful than King George and all
his governors ! " wrote an observer. ''Subtle as a
sphinx, he had hidden the important dispatches
which Washington carried from the soldier's sight,
shut up his ears from the summons of the tell-tale
clock, and was playing such pranks with the bravest
heart in Christendom that it fluttered with the
excess of a new-found happiness."
He left the next day, but almost immediately
returned to call on the young lady in her own
home. Before that second meeting with her
ended, they were betrothed, and they were married
on January 6, 1759, with much ceremony.
On that occasion Washington wore a coat of
blue cloth, lined with red silk and ornamented with
silver trimmings ; his waistcoat was of white satin
embroidered; his shoe and knee buckles were of
gold ; his hair was powdered, and by his side hung
The bride was attired in a white satin quilted
From the portrait by Gilbert Stuart. It may be seen to-day in the
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
MARTHA WASHINGTON 135
petticoat, and a heavy corded white silk overskirt ;
high-heeled shoes of white satin, with diamond
buckles; point lace ruffles; pearl necklace, ear-
rings and bracelet; pearl ornaments were in her
It was for Virginia in those days a splendid and
surpassing affair. From the church the bride with
attendant ladies drove back home in a coach
drawn by six horses, with liveried black postilions,
and accompanied by Washington mounted on his
richly caparisoned charger. The old servant,
Bishop, proud of his position and toploftical to all
but his master and mistress, was also there in his
"I have heard much of that marriage from the
lips of old servants who were participants in the
scene," said a relative of the Washing tons to the
historian, Benson J. Lossing. "There was one
negro named Cully, whose enthusiasm would kindle
whenever the subject was touched upon. I said
to him one day when he was in the hundredth
year of his age : —
"^And so, Cully, you remember when Colonel
Washington came a-courting your mistress?'
'"Indeed I do, marster. He was dar on'y fo'
times afo' de wedding, for yo' see he was in de
war all de time. We couldn't keep our eyes off
136 GEORGE WASHINGTON
him, he was so grand. An' Bishop was most as
grand as him/
"'And the wedding!' I asked.
"* Great times, great times/ Cully replied.
'We shall never see de like again. Mo' hosses
an' car'ges an' fine ladies and fine gen'men dan
when missus was mar'ied afo'.'
"'And how did Colonel Washington look?'
"'Neber see'd de like, sir! Never de likes of
him, though I've seen many in my day. He was
so tall, so straight, an' so handsom', and he set a
horse, an' rid with such an air ! Oh, he was gran' !
Yaas, he was like no one else. Many of de grandest
gen'lemen in gold lace was at de weddin,' but none
looked so fine as the Colonel himself.'
"'And your mistress?'
"Cully raised both hands and exclaimed, 'Oh,
she was bootiful and so good, was mistress.'"
For several months they lived in her house,
known as "White House," and then went to
Mount Vernon, which was redecorated and im-
proved. Washington received a wedding present
from the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great,
inscribed "From the oldest general in Europe to
the greatest general in the world."
The Washingtons lived in abundance, but with-
out extravagance. Mrs. Washington was an
MARTHA WASHINGTON 137
excellent housewife. So constant was their hos-
pitality that Washington wrote in his diary in
1768, "Would any one believe that with one hun-
dred cows, actually reported at the last enumera-
tion of the cattle, I should be obliged to buy butter
for my family!'*
Martha Washington was small, dainty, and
pretty, not brilliant, but good, a woman whose
home was her sanctuary, and the source of all
happiness when her husband was with her. Wash-
ington treated his stepson and stepdaughter as if
they were his own. The stepdaughter died young,
and her brother married. Mrs. Washington could
not attend the ceremony, but sent a beautiful letter
to the bride: "My dear Nelly: God took from
me a daughter when June roses were blooming.
He has now given me another daughter when
winter winds are blowing, to warm my heart again.
I am as happy as one so afflicted and so blessed
can be. Pray receive my benediction and a wish
that you may long live the loving wife of my
happy son, and a loving daughter of your affec-
tionate mother, M. Washington."
When the Revolution began, Mrs. Washington
was courageous and full of fortitude, though aware
of the distress it was bound to cause. Somebody
wrote to her of the "folly" of Washington's taking
138 GEORGE WASHINGTON
part in it, and she nobly replied, "I foresee conse-
quences, dark days and dark nights; domestic
happiness suspended, social enjoyments abandoned ;
property of every kind put in jeopardy by war per-
haps ; neighbors and friends at variance, and eternal
separations on earth. But my mind is made up,
my heart is in the cause. George is right; he is
always right. God has promised to protect the
righteous, and I will trust Him."
Edmund Pendleton said of her, "I was much
pleased with Mrs. Washington and her spirit.
She seemed ready to make any sacrifice, and was
very cheerful, though I knew she felt very anxious.
She talked like a Spartan mother to her son on
going to battle. 'I hope you will all stand firm,
I know George will,' she said. The dear little
woman was busy from morning until night with
domestic duties, but she gave us much time in
conversation and affording us entertainment.
When we set off in the morning, she stood in the
door and cheered us with good words, 'God be
with you, gentlemen."'
After the war began, she joined her husband at
Cambridge, and they put up in the mansion which
afterwards became the home of the poet Long-
fellow, and which is still in possession of the Long-
fellow family. Though unassuming andunpreten-
MARTHA WASHINGTON 139
tious, a truly womanly woman, she made a little
court there, and her patriotism inspired all who
came in contact with her. Her husband often
deferred to her judgment.
Her journey to Cambridge was made in the
dead of winter in a carriage, of course, over the
lonely and rough country roads, some of them
mere ruts in deep mud, which stretched between
isolated towns and settlements from Virginia to
Massachusetts. There were many perils on the
way, not only from wild animals and ruffians, but
also from the enemy, who at one time thought of
kidnapping her and holding her as a hostage.
Again, when she had returned to Virginia, a plot
was made to ravage Mount Vernon and capture
her, but it was frustrated, as was another plot
against Washington. An Irishman named Hickey
bribed one of the General's servants to poison him,
but the servant forewarned him and he did not
touch the poisoned dish. Hickey was seized at
once, and executed in the presence of twenty
The General became so active in the field that
seventeen months passed without Lady Washing-
ton, as his wife was called, seeing him, but after
that long separation they were reunited at White-
marsh, near Philadelphia, just before the terrible
I40 GEORGE WASHINGTON
march to Valley Forge, on which she accompanied
him, remaining at his side during the winter.
Every day from early morning till late at night
she was busy providing comforts for the sick sol-
diers, mending clothes and knitting socks for them.
She was simple in her own attire for the benefit of
others, and dressed herself and her servants in
homespun cloth made at Mount Vernon.
"Yesterday, with several others, I visited Lady
Washington at headquarters,'' a lady wrote.
*^We expected to find the wealthy wife of the great
general elegantly dressed, for the time of our visit
had been fixed; but, instead, she was neatly
attired in a plain brown habit. Her gracious and
cheerful manner delighted us all, but we felt re-
buked by the plainness of her apparel and her
example of persistent industry, while we were
extravagantly dressed idlers, a name not very
creditable in these perilous times. She seems very
wise in experience, kind-hearted and winning in all
her ways. She talked much of the sufferings of
the poor soldiers, especially of the sick ones. Her
heart seemed to be full of compassion for them."
Even after Washington had become President,
his wife adhered to her simple way of life. At her
receptions, when the clock struck nine, she would
say with a sweet smile, ''This is the hour when the
MARTHA WASHINGTON 141
President retires, and I usually precede him."
By ten o'clock all the Hghts in her house were
Living with the Washingtons at Mount Vernon
was Mrs. Washington's granddaughter, Nellie
Custis, one of the most beautiful and most brilliant
young women of her time. ''I was young and
romantic then," Nellie has said, ''and fond of wan-
dering alone in the woods of Mount Vernon by
moonlight. Grandmamma thought it wrong and
unsafe, and scolded and coerced me into a promise
that I would not wander in the woods again, un-
accompanied. But I was missing one evening,
and was brought home from the interdicted woods
to the drawing-room, where the General was
walking up and down with his hands behind him,
as was his wont. Grandmamma, seated in her
great armchair, opened a severe reproach."
Poor Nellie was reminded of her promises and
taxed with her delinquency. She knew she had
done wrong, admitted her fault, and made no
excuse, but when there was a slight pause, she
moved as if to retire from the room. She was just
shutting the door, when she heard the General
interceding in her behalf.
''My dear," he said to Mrs. Washington, "I
should say no more — perhaps she was not alone."
142 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Nellie stopped in her retreat, and reopening the
door, advanced to the General with a firm step.
"Sir," she said, ''you brought me up to speak
the truth, and when I told Grandmamma I was
alone I hope you believe I was alone?"
The General made one of his most magnificent
bows, and replied, "My child, I beg your pardon."
When Nellie was about sixteen years old, she
attended her first ball, and wrote a description of
it to Washington. After alluding to something
she said about her indifference to young men,
and her determination never to give herself a
moment's uneasiness on account of them, he
gravely warned her not to be too sure of herself.
"In the composition of the human frame there
is a good deal of inflammable matter, which, when
the torch is put to it, may burst into flame," he
told her, and continued thus : "Love is said to be
an involuntary passion, and it is contended that
it cannot be resisted. This is true in part only,
for like all things else, when nourished and sup-
pHed plentifully with aliment, it is rapid in its
progress ; but let these be withdrawn, and it may
be stifled in its birth, or much stinted in its growth.
. . . Nothing short of good sense and an easy,
unaffected conduct can draw the line between
prudery and coquetry. It would be no great
MARTHA WASHINGTON 143
departure from the truth to say that it rarely
happens otherwise than that a thorough-paced
coquette dies in ceHbacy, as a punishment for her
attempts to mislead others by encouraging looks,
words, and actions, given for no other purpose than
to draw men on to make overtures that they may
Kindly old man ! He could steer the ship of
state and also, as he thought, the romantic fancies
of a pretty young woman like Nellie Custis !
In spite of her asserted indifference to young
men, she was married to his nephew on Wash-
ington's birthday, February 22, 1799. She wanted
him to wear a new and splendid uniform that had
been made for him, but he appeared in the old
blue and buff that he had worn in many battles
of the Revolutionary War. The delighted girl
threw her arms around Washington's neck and
cried, "After all, I love you better in that."
Chief among the friends of Washington was
the Marquis Lafayette who came of a noble family
which for more than three centuries had been
distinguished in French history. He had been the
pet of royalty, a page to the French queen Marie
Antoinette, and a lieutenant in the Royal Musket-
eers, a body of soldiers charged with the defense
of the king's person. All his relatives were people
of the highest rank.
It might have been expected that amid such
surroundings he would have been an aristocrat
in disposition, but he proved to be a true republi-
can. The news of what the Americans were doing
for themselves inflamed him in the cause of liberty
and the rights of man.
Against some opposition he came to America
in 1777 in a ship which he had purchased for the
purpose, and landing at Georgetown, S. C, he
traveled on horseback to Philadelphia, where
WASHINGTON'S FRIENDS 145
Congress was in session. The journey, which took
a month, was beset with countless difficulties.
Here he was, a high-bred, courtly young gentle-
man of charming manners, offering his services in
the army without pay, and asking nothing more
than the satisfaction of helping a cause in which he
believed, and the chance to win what glory he
We can imagine the older men looking at him
askance, smiling at his youthfulness, his ardor,
and his aristocratic manners, and doubting his
efficiency. He was a mere boy, not twenty years
Gloom spread over his face as he heard the
decision of Congress. They had received so many
applications from foreign officers for positions that
they could consider no more. They admired him
but they could not make use of him; they were
very sorry — and so forth !
He pleaded so earnestly and so persistently
that, remembering he asked no pay, they at last
gave him a commission, and the next day he met
Washington for the first time.
At once that friendship began which lasted
through their lives. Washington was attracted
to him from the first, and as his knowledge of him
increased, he addressed him in such terms of affec-
146 GEORGE WASHINGTON
tion and admiration as he used toward no other
man, while the young Lafayette on his part bore
himself with no less affection and the deepest
reverence toward the older.
The '' Conway Cabal, " as that group of conspira-
tors against Washington was called, attempted to
use Lafayette as a tool, but he detected their
purposes, and never wavered in his loyalty to
His mihtary career justified Washington's con-
fidence in him. At the battle of the Brandy-
wine he was wounded in the leg. At the battle
of Monmouth Court House he fought gallantly
and with excellent judgment. He served also in
Rhode Island under SulHvan. But it was as a
sort of unofficial ambassador from this country to
France that he proved most useful.
He returned to France in an American frigate
called the Alliance, the crew of which mutinied,
plotting to seize her and take her into a British
port, after murdering all on board, except
Lafayette, who was to be delivered as a suitable
prisoner in exchange for General Burgoyne. The
plot was discovered and frustrated, and when he
arrived in France, Lafayette induced the French
government to send an army and a fleet to support
the Americans under Washington.
WASHINGTON'S FRIENDS 147
He then returned to America, and his place
from first to last was with the Americans, not with
the French he had brought with him. He rejoined
Washington at once, and arriving at the time
Arnold's treason was discovered, served on the
board of fourteen generals who sentenced Andre
The troops under him were, like most of the
American army, in a wretched condition, their
clothes hanging from them in disreputable looking
rags. At his own cost, for he was rich and generous,
Lafayette provided them with proper garments.
The British generals spoke of him contemptuously
as *'the boy," but he constantly proved his man-
hood, and gave them many uncomfortable experi-
ences. While he was fighting Lord Cornwallis,
previous to the surrender at Yorktown, his con-
duct was skillful and prudent, and contributed in
no slight degree toward the grand result.
Soon after the surrender, he became interested in
the abolition of slavery and purchased a large
plantation in Cayenne, where it was his purpose to
educate the slaves with a view to their gradual
emancipation, an experiment carefully followed by
Meanwhile, Lafayette went back to France,
which was already in the throes of the great
148 GEORGE WASHINGTON
revolution, and in the confusion there he was
captured and sent to an Austrian prison, where he
was treated with barbarous cruelty. Think of
him, so young and so refined, so pure and so brave,
shut up for four years in a loathsome dungeon !
Many prominent persons in England and America
interceded for him, Washington among them.
Finally came Napoleon who set him free, and
Lafayette returned to his home, thankful to his
deliverer but unwilling to enter his service.
During Napoleon's rule Lafayette lived quietly
at his country home, and when he was sixty-seven
years old he revisited the United States. Here he
was received with the greatest enthusiasm and
honor. Until the end of his long life he retained
his love for one great cause — the cause of liberty
Next to Lafayette in Washington's affection
stood Henry Knox. Left fatherless when he was
about to be graduated from the Boston Grammar
School, he, the seventh of ten sons, became the sole
support of his mother. He found a humble place
in the bookstore of Wharton & Bowes in Cornhill,
Boston, and delighted in the situation, for at odd
moments he could dip into the volumes which
surrounded him. ' Not satisfied with merely '* dip-
ping," he took home books to read, and thus ac-
WASHINGTON'S FRIENDS 149
quired much miscellaneous knowledge. He must
have been able to do with little sleep, for he was
no mere bookworm, but was noted for his stalwart
strength and spirit.
In those days there was a good deal of rivalry
between the boys of the South end of Boston, and
those of the North end. It was the custom then
to celebrate Guy Fawkes' Day as it is still cele-
brated in England on November 5, with processions
and the burning of efhgies. One procession was
not enough; both North end and South end had
each to have one, and when they met in the streets
there were savage tussles between them.
On one occasion a broken wheel disabled the
vehicle on which the effigies of Knox's party were
carried, and rather than submit to the disgrace of
withdrawing from the procession, Knox took up
the heavy load and bore it upon his shoulders,
until the place was reached for burning it, amid the
cheers of the people and the discharge of hundreds
of squibs and rockets.
In time, Knox opened a bookstore of his own, near
that of his former employers, and it soon became
the resort of the fashionable people of Boston. One
of his customers was the daughter of the royal
secretary of the province, whom he afterwards
married, much against her parent's wishes. They
I50 GEORGE WASHINGTON
were aristocrats, those parents, and thought Knox
far below her, but before long they saw that she
had made no mistake in marrying one who though
but *'a tradesman" had a martial spirit and
Inducements were offered him to join the British
army, in which his wife's brother was a lieutenant.
He would not listen to them. He was active on the
American side, even before the conflicts at Lex-
ington and Concord, and was the master spirit
in the formidable work of the Americans around
Though a bookseller by trade, Henry Knox was
a born soldier, and in the early days of the war he
won Washington's heart by offering to go on an
arduous expedition to provide him with artillery
and ordnance stores, the need for which was im-
perative during the long conflict with the British
around Boston. That expedition involved a winter
journey to Lake Champlain, and back, across
frozen rivers and lakes, and over roads deep in
snow and mire. But Knox accomplished it, and
brought back with him more than fifty cannon,
mortars, and howitzers, besides supplies of lead
and flint. These were carried on a long train of
sledges drawn by oxen all the way from Ticon-
deroga, and Knox was received with acclaim for
WASHINGTON'S FRIENDS 151
his endurance and his pertinacity. He had already
distinguished himself by his valor at Bunker Hill ;
henceforth he was to be in constant communication
with Washington, and one of his most trusted and
Another warm friend of Washington's was
Alexander Hamilton. We have seen how he first
attracted Washington by his energy in building
the fortification at Harlem Heights. He was born
on January 11, 1757, on the island of Nevis in the
West Indies, the son of an unsuccessful Scottish
merchant and a lady of Huguenot descent.
Hamilton's friends called him ''the little lion"
from the vigor and dignity of his speech. He was
considered handsome, though undersized. His
dark, deepset eyes had a commanding quality,
which often held spellbound those who listened to
him. Like many others in Revolutionary years,
he was early in life thrown on his own resources,
and was only thirteen years old when he was
placed in the office of Nicholas Cruger, a West
Indian merchant, where his diligence and intelli-
gence soon became evident. So clever was he
that his relatives and friends contrived the means
for improving his educatiqn, and sent him to King's
College, now Columbia University, in New York.
While there, after some debate with himself, he
152 GEORGE WASHINGTON
espoused the American cause, and amazed a great
audience by speaking without preparation from
the platform at a public meeting. Below the
normal stature, he looked even younger than his
seventeen years, while he overwhelmed his listeners
by his extraordinary eloquence. From that mo-
ment he was a marked man ; he not only became
captain of a troop of artillery, he constantly spoke
and wrote articles and pamphlets in the fight for
civil liberty. When he was only twenty, Wash-
ington took him on his staff as lieutenant-colonel.
More than a soldier, Alexander Hamilton was a
statesman, and in time he became Secretary of
the Treasury. Washington said of him, ''Few of
his age have a more general knowledge, and no one
is more firmly engaged in the cause, or exceeds him
in probity and sterling virtue."
He married the daughter of General Philip
Schuyler, rich and eminent and a loyal patriot;
and though needy, Hamilton refused the aid offered
by his father-in-law while he struggled to obtain
his legal education.
An extract from a letter written by Mrs. Wash-
ington to Mrs. Hamilton during an illness of Hamil-
ton, shows how friendly the two families were : —
"I am truly glad, my dear Madam, to hear
Colonel Hamilton is better bodily. You have my
WASHINGTON'S FRIENDS 153
prayers and warmest wishes for his recovery. I
hope you will take care of yourself, as you know
it is necessary for your family. We are lucky to
have those bottles of the old wine that was carried
to the East Indies, which are sent to you, with
three of another kind, also good. We have a
plenty to supply you, as often as you please to
send for it. The president joins me in devoutly
wishing for Colonel Hamilton's recovery."
After all his brilliant services to the young re-
public, and they are said to have been next in
value to Washington's, his end was tragic. He had
bitterly opposed Aaron Burr in politics, and at
last received a challenge from him to fight a duel.
He disapproved of that foolish way of settling
disputes, but shrank from the possibility of being
thought a coward.
''I have resolved," he said, "to let Colonel Burr
fire without returning his shot, so that he may
have an opportunity to pause and repent."
The meeting took place at seven o'clock in the
morning in the Elysian Fields, as some meadows
near the PaHsades of the Hudson at Weehawken
were called. At the first word Aaron Burr fired,
and Hamilton instantly fell; he was mortally
wounded, though he survived until the next day.
His wonderful work as Secretary of the Treasury
154 GEORGE WASHINGTON
won from Daniel Webster his famous tribute : "He
smote the rock of the national resources and
touched the dead corpse of public credit which
sprang upon its feet. . . . The fabled birth of
Minerva from the brain of Jove was hardly more
sudden or more perfect than that of the financial
system of the United States from the conceptions of
"His purity/' says Goldwin Smith, who was no
indulgent critic, "was above suspicion; the
attempts of his enemies to impeach it totally
failed. Equally above suspicion was his patriot-
ism, and if, in the fierce excitement of political
conflict, he did what could not be defended, these
were but spots on a character otherwise stainless.'*
Another friend for whom Washington had
affection was Colonel Daniel Morgan, the rifleman
who fought valiantly both in the North and in the
South, for he became the famous hero of the battle
of the Cowpens. Here the loss of the Americans
was only seventy-two while the British lost more
than eight hundred.
One night, early in the war, Washington said
to Morgan, "I have sent for you, Colonel Morgan,
to intrust to your courage and sagacity a small
but very important enterprise. I wish you to
reconnoiter the enemy's lines, with a view to your
WASHINGTON'S FRIENDS 155
ascertaining correctly the positions of their newly
constructed redoubts ; also the encampments of
the British troops that have lately arrived and
those of the Hessian auxiHaries. Select, sir, an
officer, a non-commissioned officer, and about
twenty picked men, and under the cover of night,
proceed with all possible caution, get as near as
you can, learn all you can, and by dawn retire,
and make your report to headquarters.
"But mark me, Colonel Morgan, mark me well :
on no account whatever are you to bring on any
skirmishing with the enemy. If discovered, make
a speedy retreat ; let nothing induce you to fire a
single shot. I repeat, sir, that no force of cir-
cumstances will excuse the discharge of a single
rifle on your part, and for the extreme precision
of these orders, permit me to say I have my
Morgan, dashing and eager, listened attentively.
Fining two glasses of wine, the general continued,
"And now we will drink a good night and success
to the enterprise."
Morgan did what he was told as to the observa-
tions, and was returning when his men saw some
of the enemy ride along the road. The tempta-
tion was too great for them, and they fired, con-
trary to Washington's explicit order.
156 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Morgan, after they reached camp, was reflecting
uncomfortably on what would happen to him when
Alexander Hamilton approached him and said, ''I
am ordered, Colonel Morgan, to inquire whether
the firing just now heard came from your detach-
*'It did, sir," Morgan replied unhappily.
^' Then, Colonel, I am further ordered to require
your immediate attendance on his Excellency, who
"Can it be possible that my aid-de-camp has
informed me aright? Can it be possible," he
demanded with much sternness, "after the orders
you received last evening, that the firing we have
heard proceeded from your detachment? Surely,
sir, my orders were so explicit as not to be easily
Shaking in his boots, Morgan uncovered and
repHed, "Your Excellency's orders were perfectly
understood, and agreeably to the same, I proceeded
with a select party to reconnoiter the enemy's
lines. We succeeded beyond our expectations,
and I was returning to headquarters to make my
report when, having halted a few moments to rest
our men, we discovered a party of horsemen com-
ing out -from the enemy's Hnes. They came up
WASHINGTON'S FRIENDS 157
immediately to the spot where we lay concealed
by the brushwood. There they halted, and
gathered together hke a flock of partridges, afford-
ing me so tempting an opportunity of annoying my
enemies that — that — that — may it please your
Excellency, flesh and blood could not refrain."
Washington turned away without a word of
reproach, and Morgan said afterwards, ^'What
could the unusual clemency of the commander in
chief toward so insubordinate a soldier as I was
mean? Was it that by attacking my enemy
wherever I could find him, and the attack being
crowned with success, should plead in bar of the
disobedience of a positive order ? Certainly not.
Was it that Washington knew that I loved, nay
adored him above all human beings ? That knowl-
edge would not have helped a feather in the scale
of his military justice. In short, the whole affair
is explained in five words : It was my first offence."
Possibly, also, as Mr. Norman Hapgood says,
part of the explanation lay in the fact that Wash-
ington loved daring and successful fighters like
Arnold, Morgan, and Wayne, as he loved dashing
and cultivated young men like Hamilton, Laurens,
More trouble came to Washington through
what was called the ''Whiskey Rebellion/' There
were large numbers of Scotch-Irish in Pennsylvania
who resisted taxation of the liquor they produced,
and it was necessary to send an army against them
to enforce the law. There was trouble also in the
foreign relations of the country, for England still
retained posts in the West, and Spain still claimed
the Mississippi. France and England were again
at war, and France was disposed to browbeat
America. In violation of the neutraHty laws, she
was fitting out privateers in this country against
England, with the approval of a part of the people,
but with Washington's disapproval.
*'What," said the President, ''is to be done in
the case of the Little Sarah, now at Chester?"
The Little Sarah, a captured British ship, was
one of the privateers. "Is the minister of the
French RepubHc to set the acts of this government
aside with impunity? And then threaten the
WASHINGTON'S ENEMIES 159
executive with an appeal to the people? What
must the world think of such conduct, and of the
government of the United States in submitting
Edmund Charles Genet, the French minister,
promised that the ship should not sail until the
dispute was settled, but notwithstanding that she
sneaked out to sea by his connivance.
Washington was furious. He would have liked
to order Genet out of the country at once, but he
wanted, if possible, to avoid any action that might
arouse the anger of France. After some delay
Washington did force Genet's retirement, and,
afraid of going back to France, that gentleman re-
mained quietly in this country and was seldom
heard of again. He settled in New York City and
became one of the founders of the Tammany So-
At the same time there was much friction with
England, which was less popular than France, and
it often appeared as if the war, so recently ended,
must be followed by another. Washington was
eager for peace. To an EngHsh nobleman he
wrote, "I believe it is the sincere wish of United
America to have nothing to do with poHtical
intrigues, or the squabbles of European nations ;
but on the contrary to exchange commodities and
l6o GEORGE WASHINGTON
live in peace and amity with all the inhabitants of
the earth. Under such a system, if we are allowed
to pursue it, the agricultural and mechanical arts,
the wealth and population of these states, will in-
crease with that degree of rapidity as to baffle
all calculation, and must surpass any idea your
Lordship can hitherto have entertained."
But many of the people wanted to reopen the
war and resented Washington's opposition to it.
Stirred up by Genet, they threatened day after
day in Philadelphia to drag the President out of his
house and to overthrow the government. He had
made a treaty with England which they did not
like. Copies of it were burned in the streets, and
John Jay, who had negotiated it, was hanged in
effigy. But Washington was, as usual, as firm as
a rock, and despite abuse and threats he enforced
Fisher Ames of Massachusetts, a delicate man
and ill at the time, made a memorable speech in
Congress in behalf of the treaty.
"Even the minutes I have spent in expostulat-
ing," he said, "have their value, because they
protract the crisis and the short period, in which
alone we may resolve to escape it. Yet I have,
perhaps, as little personal interest in the event as
any one here. There is, I believe, no member
WASHINGTON'S ENEMIES i6i
who will not think his chance to be a witness of
the consequences to be greater than mine. If,
however, the vote should pass to reject — even I,
slender and almost broken as my hold on life is,
may outlive the government and constitution of
John Adams, then Vice-President, thus described
the speech in a letter to his wife : —
^' Judge Iredell and I happened to sit together.
Our feelings beat in unison. 'How great he is/
"'Noble,' said I.
"'Bless my soul,' Iredell continued. 'I never
heard anything so great since I was born.'
"'Divine !' said I, and then we went on with our
interjections, not to say tears, to the end — not
a dry eye in the house."
The treaty was ratified on April 30, 1796, in
spite of all opposition. Ames's speech is regarded
as one of the most eloquent ever made in Congress.
Edmund Randolph, who had been a protege of
Washington's, played a treacherous part in the
French trouble, and Washington thus exposed him
and cast him off: "Peyton Randolph [Edmund's
father] was my dearest friend. He died suddenly
in October, 1775. In an hour of affectionate and
solemn communion, in which he had expressed an
1 62 GEORGE WASHINGTON
expectation that before long he would be thus re-
moved, he begged me to be a friend to his nephew
and adopted son, Edmund. I promised that I
would be to him as a father; that promise has
been faithfully kept. If, in any instance, I have
been swayed by personal and private feelings in
the exercise of political influence or of official
patronage and power it has been in this.
"Upon taking command of the army of the
United Colonies in June, 1775, I made him, not
then twenty-two years of age, one of my aids. . . .
My entire interest was actively given to place and
advance him in the path of political and professional
promotion. By the aid of my influence he rose
from one distinguished post to another in rapid
succession. ... I made him Attorney- General in
the States, at the organization of the Federal
government, a member of my Cabinet from the
first. In 1794 I made him Secretary of State,
placing him at the head of my official council ; he
has been admitted to my utmost confidence. I
have held with him a daily intimacy. He occupied
the chief seat among the guests at myftable."
At this point Washington rose to his feet, his
whole aspect and manner showing the gathering
"While at the head of my Cabinet he has been
WASHINGTON'S ENEMIES 163
secretly, but actively, plotting with the opponents
of my administration, consulting and contracting
with them for the defeat of its measures ; he, the
Secretary of State, to whose trust the foreign rela-
tions of the country are confided, has been con-
ducting an intrigue with the ambassador of a
foreign government, to promote the designs of
that government, which were to overthrow the
administration, of which he, Randolph, was a
trusted member, receiving from that ambassador
money to aid in accomplishing that object ; solicit-
ing from him more for the same purpose — all
this time I have had entire faith in him, and been
led by that faith to pay deference to his representa-
tions, to delay ratification of the English treaty,
thereby exposing myself to the imputation of
having been intimidated by party clamor from the
discharge of a public duty, an imputation contrary
to the truth, a thought abhorrent to my feelings
and to my nature, and now he has written and
Washington held in his hand Randolph's pam-
phlet, and as he threw it down he burst into a flood
of terrible denunciation. Then his temper grew
calm as quickly as it had risen, and Randolph
became a person not to be thought of again.
Before his death Randolph said to one of Wash-
1 64 GEORGE WASHINGTON
ington's nephews : ^'If I could now present myself
before your venerated uncle, it would be my pride
to confess my contrition. I wish I could recall
all I said of him.'^
A graphic account of Washington during his
Presidency has been given by a neighbor of his in
''When he was elected President, he lived during
the whole of the time that he was in Philadelphia
nearly opposite to me. At that time I saw him
almost daily. ... He was a most elegant figure
of a man, with so much dignity of manner that no
person whatever could take any improper liberties
with him. I have heard Mr. Robert Morris, who
was as intimate with him as any man in America,
say that he was the only man in whose presence he
felt any awe. You would seldom see a frown or a
smile on his countenance, his air was serious and
reflecting, yet I have seen him laugh in the theatre
heartily. . . . Commodore Barry, Major Jackson
and myself were appointed a committee of the
Society of the Cincinnati to wait on him with a
copy of an address, and to learn when it would be
convenient to wait upon him. He received us with
good humor, and laughing, told us that he had
heard Governor Morris say that when he knew
gentlemen were going to call on him with an address.
WASHINGTON'S ENEMIES 165
he sent to beg they would bring the answer to it
with them so that he might be spared the trouble
of preparing it.
"He was in Philadelphia a short time before
he died, and I thought he never looked better than
he did at that time. He was called the American
Fabius, but Fabius was not the equal of George
Washington. He suffered Tarentum to be pillaged
when it was traitorously delivered to him, and his
opposition and jealousy of Scipio rendered the
Roman unequal to the American hero."
Still another bitter critic of Washington was
Thomas Paine, a man of humble origin but great
abilities. A Quaker, born in England, and early in
life a sailor and a stay-maker, he met in London
Benjamin FrankHn, who advised him to come to
America, and he arrived in Philadelphia in Decem-
ber, 1774. Like all good immigrants, Paine was
ready to do anything for a living, and was fortunate
in being appointed, almost at once, editor of the
Pennsylvania Magazine, In that periodical and
in pamphlets he poured out his thoughts with
great industry, and they were all eloquent for
freedom and the rights of man. His way of saying
things was so sensible and at the same time so
persuasive that he rarely missed his mark. His
books sold by the hundreds of thousands, and he
1 66 GEORGE WASHINGTON
became one of the most prominent figures in the
Not content with his activities here, he went
back to England, and made trouble for the govern-
"Tom Paine is quite right, '^ said the English
Prime Minister, ''but what am I to do? As
things are, if I were to encourage his opinions we
should have a bloody revolution."
Paine narrowly escaped the doom of traitors in
the Tower of London, and made his way into
France, where, so well known had this humble
stay-maker become, he was received with great
honors. Though he did not know the French
language, and needed an interpreter, he was elected
to political ojQ&ce there, and exciting the suspicions
of Robespierre, he was thrown into prison, escaping
the guillotine by a mere chance.
Many of his speeches and his writings were
beautiful. Of the struggle between England and
America he said, ''Arms must decide the contest.
The sun never shone on a cause of greater worth.
'Tis not the affair of a city, a county, a province, or
a kingdom, but of a continent — of at least one-
eighth part of the habitable globe. 'Tis not a
concern of a day, a year, or an age ; posterity is
involved in it even to the end of time. Freedom
WASHINGTON'S ENEMIES 167
hath been hunted round the globe ; Asia and Africa
have long expelled her; Europe regards her as
a stranger, and England has given her warning to
depart. Oh, receive the fugitive and prepare an
asylum for mankind V^
His attacks on Washington may be attributed
not to malice and not to envy, but to an honest
misunderstanding due to the difference in the ideas
of the two men. Washington himself praised
Thomas Paine's abilities.
The Indian Wars
Let us now return to Washington as President.
His burdens in that office were heavier than those of
any other president, except Lincoln. The country
was in great disorder, almost in a state of anarchy.
Sometimes it appeared as if the government could
not go on and that the union of the states must
break up because of the differences between them.
There were loud dissensions between those who
believed in the supremacy of each state and those
who insisted on the superiority of the whole to any
part. Only a very great man could have saved
them from disruption, and from that disaster
they were saved by Washington's genius, his
patience, his firmness, his shrewdness, his devo-
tion, and his unwavering fidelity. Naturally a
simple man, he yet upheld the dignity of his posi-
tion on all occasions. Never had helmsman a
steadier hand or clearer eye than his.
Washington made a trip through New England
THE INDIAN WARS 169
and, of course, expected the governor of Massa-
chusetts to call on him when he reached Boston.
The holder of that office at the time was John
Hancock, whose signature is so conspicuous in the
Declaration of Independence. From that signa-
ture it is easy to surmise Hancock's character.
He was arrogant, bumptious, and jealous. Instead
of calling on the President, he waited for the Presi-
dent to call on him. But Washington would not
be treated in that way, and stood on his dignity.
At the eleventh hour Hancock saw his mistake.
He wrote an apologetic letter to Washington,
asking if he might call on him within half an hour,
though it would be at the hazard of his health,
for he was a great sufferer from gout. Washington
answered at once, expressing his willingness to
see him, but begging him, with a touch of irony,
not to do anything that might endanger his health.
So Hancock came and made his call.
It was a question of etiquette, nothing more,
but Washington was exacting in such matters.
*'How," says Senator Lodge, "the general gov-
ernment would have sunk in popular estimation
if the President had not asserted, with perfect
dignity and yet entire firmness, its position !
Men are governed largely by impressions, and
Washington knew it. Hence his settling at once
I70 GEORGE WASHINGTON
and forever the question of precedence between the
Union and the States. Everywhere and at all
times, according to his doctrine, the nation was
to be first."
When the Indians were giving trouble, Major
General Arthur St. Clair was appointed to subju-
gate them. Before he started he had a long inter-
view with Washington who especially warned him
He was overwhelmed, however, and sent word
to Washington of his defeat. When the messenger
arrived, Washington was entertaining a dinner
party and was denied to him. The servant and
Washington's secretary offered to take in any
message he had, but he insisted that he could
communicate only with the President himself.
At last Washington came out, and took from the
messenger the dispatch containing news of the
disaster. He said not a word, but went back to
the dinner table, as if nothing had happened, and
afterwards attended his wife's reception, showing
his customary suavity in talking to the guests.
Not until the last of them had gone did he show the
Then he suddenly broke out: "It's all over —
St. Clair's defeated, routed; the officers nearly
all killed; the men by wholesale; the rout com-
THE INDIAN WARS 171
pleted — too shocking to think of — and a sur-
prise into the bargain.''
He strode up and down the room in anguish, and
by and by burst forth into a torrent of wrath.
^'Here in this very spot I took leave of him ; I
wished him success and honor. 'You have your
instructions from the Secretary of War/ I said.
'I have a strict eye to them, and I will add but one
word — beware of a surprise. I repeat it : be-
ware of a surprise. You know how the Indians
fight us ! ' He was off with that as my last solemn
warning thrown into his ears. And yet ! to suffer
that army to be cut to pieces, hacked, butchered,
tomahawked by a surprise — the very thing I
guarded him against I . . . How can he answer
for it to his country! The blood of the slain is
upon him — the curse of the widows and orphans
— the curse of Heaven !"
He sat down on the sofa and relapsed into
silence, which he maintained for some time.
Then he murmured, *' The news must not go beyond
this room," and, recovering his self-possession,
"General St. Clair shall have justice. I have
been hasty, I looked hurriedly through the dis-
patches, but did not see all the particulars. I will
hear him without prejudice ; he shall have full
172 GEORGE WASHINGTON
The storm was over, and no further sign of it
was ever seen or heard in his manner or conversa-
tion. The case was investigated by Congress.
St. Clair was exculpated and taken back to Wash-
ington's confidence. He had put himself in the
thickest of the fight and escaped unhurt, though
unable to mount his horse without help and so ill
that he had to be carried on a Htter.
Washington was the pilot as well as the helms-
man of the ship of state, and but for him that
vessel must have been wrecked. He steered it
through many perilous channels, and through
many storms in which it again and again threatened
to founder. To his sagacity alone was due its
arrival in port, with all hands in safety and flying
His first cabinet included some of the ablest men
in the country. For the position of Attorney-
General he chose Edmund Randolph, who came
from one of the oldest Virginia families, and who
had been governor of that state. The secretary-
ship of War he gave to General Henry Knox,
the former bookseller of Boston, who had been
so useful during the revolution. For the secre-
taryship of the Treasury he chose Alexander
Hamilton, and for the highest place of all, the
State Department, he chose Thomas Jefferson,
THE INDIAN WARS 173
who himself became third President of the United
Jefferson received his appointment, like the
others, not through favoritism, but because he
was the best man for it. The others were all
warm friends of Washington ; Jefferson never dis-
played anything Hke affection for him, nor did Wash-
ington ever display more than a dignified apprecia-
tion of Jefferson. The two men differed in their
views, and in a sense belonged to different parties.
Washington was a federalist, or one who beheved in
the nation, in its superiority to the states ; Jefferson
advocated the rights of the states separately as
against the supremacy of the nation. Each appreci-
ated the abihties of the other, but no love was lost
between them. Jefferson had less modesty than
Washington, but he had a right to a high opinion of
himself. He was a Virginian of good family, similar
in position to that of Washington, his father ha\dng
been a planter, and was the third child and eldest son.
Graduating from William and Mary College, he
became a lawyer, and was a member of the House
of Burgesses on that famous occasion when Patrick
Henry delivered his ''liberty or death" speech,
and Lord Dunmore dismissed them with threats
of prosecution for treason. Always orderly and
dignified, he had much of Washington's stateHness,
174 GEORGE WASHINGTON
and a profound faith in the merits of democracy.
Indeed, in some ways he was more democratic
than Washington himself. Though he was nothing
of an orator, he wrote in stately periods and was
the author of the Declaration of Independence.
He too was tall and handsome, a man of the great-
est integrity and the loftiest principles. When he
died he left this inscription for his tomb: "Here
lies buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Dec-
laration of American Independence, of the Statute
of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of
the University of Virginia.'' He was buried in the
grounds of his magnificent estate, Monticello,
near Charlottesville, Virginia, and his beautiful
house is to-day in almost the identical condition
as when he died. No essential change has been
made in all the intervening years.
One of the earliest difficulties of the Cabinet was
with the Indians, who though driven out of the
Atlantic states were still on the warpath west of the
AUeghanies. There they menaced the frontier, and
held back the whites, who were eager to advance
westward. Washington was one of the few men
who knew them well. He had been familiar with
them in peace and had fought with them over and
Peace reigned in New York but in Kentucky
THE INDIAN WARS 175
a war was in progress between the Wabash Indians
and the whites, who in reprisal punished other
tribes indiscriminately ; then Choctaws, Cherokees,
and Creeks united and were led by a Scotch half-
breed named Alexander McGillivray. No doubt
they had been treated unjustly.
''Washington/' says Senator Lodge, "was both
angered and disheartened by the conduct of the
states and of the frontier settlers. . . . Those
very men who shot Indians at sight, and plundered
them of their lands, were the first to cry out for
aid from the general government when a war,
brought about usually by their own violation of
the treaties of the United States, was upon them.
On the other hand, the Indians themselves were
warlike and quarrelsome."
It was then that the defeat of St. Clair occurred,
that disaster which moved Washington so deeply.
St. Clair had left Cincinnati with two thousand
men, with orders to build a line of forts. Pushing
slowly on until he reached the head-waters of the
Wabash, he was joined by some disorderly and un-
disciplined Kentucky militia. Sixty of them de-
serted, and it became necessary to send a regiment
after them to keep them from plundering the bag-
Nevertheless St. Clair held to his course and
176 GEORGE WASHINGTON
reached his last camp with about fourteen hundred
men. At sunrise the next day the Indians sur-
prised him, only about a thousand of them against
his fourteen hundred, and yet he was obliged to fly
with a loss of nine hundred !
Panic seized the frontier, and another increase
of the army was ordered. Anthony Wayne was
put in charge. He was another able general who
had been in many Revolutionary battles, victor
in some and deserving praise even in his defeats.
Washington called him a "prudent man," yet the
rather misleading popular name for him, "Mad
Anthony," was given to him for the daring of many
of his exploits.
Wayne led an army to a point six miles beyond
Fort Jefferson, in the autumn of 1793, and went
into winter quarters. Early in the following year
he advanced to the scene of St. Clair's defeat,
where he met the Indians and repulsed them after
two days of fighting. He then marched to their
villages and burned them. One victory was
quickly followed by another, and in the end he
forced on them a treaty of peace.
This peace in the West and North did not pre-
vail in the South, however. There the Georgians
still assailed the red men, generally choosing the
peacefully-disposed tribes as their victims, and
THE INDIAN WARS 177
the state of Georgia itself violated all the treaties
made by the central government and carried on a
constant war with the usual accompaniments of
fire, murder, and pillage.
All through these trying times Washington was
often held responsible for the trouble. "No one,"
says Senator Lodge, "understood that here was
an important part of a scheme to build up a nation,
to make all the movements of the United States
broad and national, and to open the vast West
to the people who were to make it theirs. Wash-
ington heard all the criticism and saw all the opposi-
tion, and still pressed forward to the goal, not
attaining all he wished, but fighting in a very clear
and manful spirit, and not laboring in vain."
Washington was now sixty-one years old, and
he often sighed for the tranquillity of home, where
we catch an occasional glimpse of him in harbor,
as it were, after all the laboring of the ship of state
through stormy seas.
Second Term as President
All the honors worth living for Washington had
enjoyed, but much had he endured in winning
them. There remained dif&culties in his cabinet
now, especially between Hamilton and Jefferson.
*'I would rather go to my farm, take my spade
in my hand, and work for my bread than remain
where I am," he complained in a fit of despondency.
But soon after saying this he allowed himself to
be elected President for a second term, and he
wrote to the governor of Virginia, "That the pros-
pect before us is, as you justly observe, fair, none
can deny, but what use we shall make of it is ex-
ceedingly problematical; not but that I believe
all things will come right at last, but like a young
heir come a little prematurely to a large inheritance,
we shall wanton and run riot until we have brought
our reputation to the brink of ruin, and then like
him shall have to labor with the current of opinion,
when compelled, perhaps, to do what prudent
SECOND TERM AS PRESIDENT 179
and common policy pointed out as plain as any
problem in Euclid in the first instance."
Meanwhile the country was growing with rapid
strides, and immigrants arrived in increasing num-
bers from nearly all parts of Europe, and especially
from Germany and Ireland. Dr. James Schouler
has sketched the farmer's progress thus : —
"After buying his land and taking possession
in the spring, the farmer would cut down a few
trees to build himself and his family a temporary
home. His neighbors, if there were any for miles
about, good-naturedly lent their assistance, and
in three or four days a building of unhewn logs
rose ready for habitation. Roughly put together,
the interstices stopped with rails, calked with
straw or moss and daubed with mud, and the roof
covered with nothing better than thin staves split
out of oakwood and fastened on by heavy poles,
such a dwelling was a 'log cabin' ; but a house of a
better sort, especially if made of hewn logs, having
the crannies neatly stopped with stone and plaster,
and a shingled roof, would be styled a 4og house.' "
At its door any bright afternoon might be seen
a healthy woman, awaiting her husband's return,
and dressed to please him, who dandled a baby in
her arms, while handsome boys and girls played
before her. All around the little home was the
vast American forest, in which the husband worked
i8o GEORGE WASHINGTON
hard to make a clearing, and the ring of his ax
was the music of civilization's advancing hosts.
A prudent settler never uprooted his large trees,
for the labor would come to more than the land
was worth; he cut them off two or three feet
from the ground, and then left the stumps to decay
at leisure. It would be ten years, perhaps, in
New York and Pennsylvania, before such stumps
would rot away ; farther south the process was
more rapid, and the land reclaimed was very rich.
Turning his new soil in May with a plowshare
or harrow, the settler dropped Indian corn into
the earth, and was gladdened by a large harvest in
October. A store of cornmeal and hominy was
thus laid by for family consumption, with abun-
dant provender besides for cattle and poultry. His
sheep and hogs ranged the forest for their food.
For a few years it was a rough and lonely life.
The father and his sons had to roam the woods
with dog and gun, to shoot deer, raccoons, and
squirrels for fresh meat, bartering off their skins
at the nearest store in order to procure clothing,
tea, and sugar for the household.
As years went on the land was cleared, and wheat,
tobacco, and other products were added to the
crops. The family became prosperous. Other
immigrants made their homes in the vicinity.
SECOND TERM AS PRESIDENT i8i
The wilderness became a settlement. A sawmill
was built, and at length the intrepid and industrious
settler moved from the log cabin into a much finer
and more commodious house.
His recreation and the recreation of his sons was
furnished by his gun. The only bird he cared
to pursue was the wild turkey, though he often
hunted deer, beaver, or bears. As a mere froHc
he went after the gray squirrel. There was no
meat more delicious to the settler than squirrel,
roasted or stewed.
While the country was thus growing, Washington
was so much abused for the treaty he made with
England that he exclaimed, ''Such exaggerated
and indecent terms could scarcely be applied to a
Nero, a notorious defaulter, or even to a common
pickpocket. '* But, as Woodrow Wilson says, the
men who sneered and stormed, talked of usurpa-
tion and impeachment, called him base, incompe-
tent, treacherous even, were permitted to see not
so much as the quiver of an eyelid as they watched
him go steadily from step to step in the course he
Shame finally came upon the men who had
abused him. The people would have had him
accept a third term, but he felt that he had served
them long enough. He had made the nation
1 82 GEORGE WASHINGTON
secure and prosperous, and saw that his dream of
the expansion of the West and Southwest would
come true. The thirteen loosely associated states
had unified themselves in a powerful whole.
When he resigned his office to John Adams, a
scene occurred which removed all doubt as to his
standing with the people. A crowd assembled to
witness the inauguration, but few paid any atten-
tion to Adams. All eyes were bent upon the
stately and impressive figure of Washington in
black velvet with a sword hanging at his side.
"No one,'' says Mr. Wilson, ''stirred till he had
left the room to follow and pay his respects to the
new President. Then they and all the crowd in
the streets moved after him, an immense company
going as one man, in total silence, his escort all
the way. He turned upon the threshold of the
President's lodgings and looked, as if for the last
time, upon this multitude of nameless friends.
No man ever saw him so moved. The tears rolled
unchecked down his cheeks, and when at last he
went within, a great, smothered, common voice
went through the stirred throng as if they sobbed
to see their hero go from their sight forever."
Last Days at Mount Vernon
In bequeathing his swords, Washington wrote
in his will for those who inherited them, *' These
swords are accompanied with an injunction not to
unsheath them for the purpose of shedding blood
except for self-defense, or in defense of their
country, or its rights, and in the latter case to keep
them unsheathed, and prefer falling with them
in their hands to the relinquishment thereof.'^
At the end of his second term as President, an
effort was made to have him seek a third term, but
he refused. He opened the way for John Adams
to succeed him, and then retired to his beloved
"The remainder of my life (which in the course
of nature cannot be long)," he said, "will be occu-
pied with rural amusement, and though I shall
seclude myself as much as possible from the noisy
and bustling crowd, none more than myself would
be regaled by the company of those I esteem, at
1 84 GEORGE WASHINGTON
Mount Vernon, more than twenty miles from which,
after I arrive there, it is not Hkely I shall ever be.
''Retired from noise myself, and the responsi-
bihty attached to public employment, my hours
v/ill glide smoothly on. My best wishes, however,
for the prosperity of our country will always have
the first place in my thoughts; while to repair
buildings and to cultivate my farms, which require
close attention, will occupy the few years, perhaps
days, I may be a sojourner here, as I am now in the
sixty-sixth year of my peregrination through
Old as he was, the threats of France led him to
buckle on his sword again and to become for the
second time commander in chief of the army. But
the war cloud dispersed, and he was not called on
afterwards for active service.
Only three years more of life on this earth
remained to George Washington. He had brought
up nephews, nieces, and other relatives with un-
failing care and devotion ; all his life he had been
generous and loyal, good and true. To one who
had criticized him he wrote, ''Whether you have,
upon any occasion, expressed yourself in dis-
respectful terms of me, I know not — it has
never been the subject of my inquiry. If nothing
impeaching my honor or honesty is said, I care
LAST DAYS AT MOUNT VERNON 185
little for the rest. I have pursued my uniform
course for three score years, and am happy in
beheving that the world has thought it a right one.
Of its being so, I am so well satisfied myself that
I shall not depart from it by turning either to the
right or to the left until I arrive at the end of my
Washington was very ceremonious at his re-
ceptions, too much so for Patrick Henry, who de-
clined several offices, because, he said, with careless
sarcasm, his habits of life unfitted him for mingling
with those who were now aping the manners of a
monarchy. Every Tuesday afternoon Washington
held levees which began at three o'clock, and he
appeared clad in black silk velvet, his hair powdered
and gathered in a silk bag ; with yellow gloves on
his hands, and holding a cocked hat with a black
cockade, and the edges adorned with a feather
about an inch long. He wore knee and shoe
buckles of silver and a long sword. He always
stood in front of the fireplace, with his face toward
the door of entrance. The visitor was led up to
him and his name announced. Washington re-
ceived him with a dignified bow, and allowed
him to pass on without a shake of the hand.
At a quarter past three the door closed, shutting
out all who were late, and then the President,
1 86 GEORGE WASHINGTON
beginning on the right, moved round the room, say-
ing a few words to each person. Having finished
the circuit, he resumed his first position, and the
visitors came up to him again and once more bowed
and retired. In an hour the ceremony was over.
Though he was in his sixty-eighth year, Wash-
ington still kept up his habit of superintending
every detail of the work on his plantations. One
day, December 12, 1799, he was riding forth with
that purpose in view when he was caught in a
severe storm. When he reached home he was
suffering from a chill which compelled him to take
to his bed and doctors were suinmoned. We know
all that happened, for his secretary, Tobias Lear,
who was present, has left all the particulars. Mr.
Lear proposed that he should take some medicine,
but Washington answered, ''No, you know I
never take anything for a cold. Let it go as it
came." He rapidly grew worse, breathing with
difficulty, and soon was hardly able to utter a
Medicine was primitive in those days, and
they dosed him with various homemade mixtures.
They even bled him. ''Don't be afraid," he said
when he saw the hesitation of the man who was to
make the incision. No improvement followed the
LAST DAYS AT MOUNT VERNON 187
They next tried blisters, gargles, and drugs such
as no modern doctor would think of prescribing.
The treatment probably hastened his end. Two
days later, with his finger on his own pulse, Wash-
ington expired without a struggle or a sigh.
It was Henry Lee (''Light Horse Harry," the
father of the illustrious General Robert E. Lee)
who delivered the funeral oration on Washington,
in which occurs the memorable and oft-quoted
words, "First in war, first in peace, first in the
hearts of his countrymen."
"First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of
his countrymen, he was second to none in the
humble and endearing scenes of private Hfe.
Pious, just, humane, temperate and sincere, dig-
nified and commanding, his example was as
edifying to all around him as were the effects of
that example lasting. To his equals he was con-
descending, to his inferiors kind, and to the dear
object of his affections exemplarily tender. Vice
shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt
his fostering hand. The purity of his private
character gave effulgence to his public virtues.
"His last scene comported with the whole tenor
of his life. Although in extreme pain, not a sigh
nor a groan escaped him ; and with undisturbed
serenity he closed his well-spent life. Such was the
1 88 GEORGE WASHINGTON
man America has lost! Such was the man for
whom our nation mourns.
^'Methinks I see his august image and hear
falHng from his venerable lips, these deep, sinking
words: * Cease, sons of America, lamenting our
separation. Go on, and confirm by your wisdom
the fruits of our joint councils, joint efforts, and
common dangers. Reverence religion; diffuse
knowledge throughout your land; patronize the
arts and sciences ; let liberty and order be insepa-
rable companions ; control party spirit, the bane
of free government; observe good faith to and
cultivate peace with all foreign nations ; shut up
every avenue to foreign influence ; contract rather
than extend natural connections; rely on your-
selves only; be American in thought and deed.
Thus will you give immortality to that union
which was the constant object of my terrestrial
labors ; thus will you preserve undisturbed to the
latest posterity the felicity of a people to me most
dear ; and thus you will supply (if my happiness
is aught to you) the only vacancy in the round of
pure bliss high heaven bestows.' "
An eloquent tribute to Washington has been paid
by Henry Cabot Lodge : —
*'I see in Washington a great soldier, who fought
a trying war to a successful end impossible without
LAST DAYS AT MOUNT VERNON 189
him ; a great statesman who did more than all
other men to lay the foundations of a republic
which has endured in prosperity for more than a
century. I find in him a marvelous judgment
which was never at fault, a penetrating vision
which beheld the future of America when it was
dim to other eyes, a great intellectual force, a
will of iron, an unyielding grasp of facts and an
unequaled strength of patriotic purpose. I see
in him too a pure and high-minded gentleman of
dauntless courage and stainless honor, simple and
stately of manner, kind and generous of heart.
Such he was in truth. ' The historian and the biog-
rapher may fail to do him justice, but the instinct
of mankind will not fail. The real hero needs not
book to give him worshipers. George Washington
will hold the love and reverence of men because
they see embodied in him the noblest possibilities
Surely there has been no nobler man in history
than George Washington. His one thought and
only aim were to benefit his country. His simplic-
ity was as great as his genius. No self-seeking ever
appeared in his character. He was without vanity
and without jealousy, a man who surrendered
himself, heart and soul, that human freedom should
endure forever. Kingship was nothing to him,
igo GEORGE WASHINGTON
and nothing ever drew him aside from the generous
object he cherished above all others.
I take the words following from a speech made by
Daniel Webster: — ''Born upon our soil — of
parents also born upon it — never for a moment
having had sight of the old world — instructed
according to the modes of his time, only in the
spare, plain, but wholesome elementary knowledge
which our institutions provide for the children of
the people — growing up beneath and penetrated
by the genuine influences of American society —
living from infancy to manhood and age amidst our
expanding, but not luxurious civilization — par-
taking in our great destiny of labor, our long
contest with unreclaimed nature and uncivilized
man — our agony of glory, the War of Independ-
ence — our great victory of peace, the formation
of the Union, and the establishment of the Con-
stitution, — he is all — all our own ! Washington
Thus ended the life of one who in all ways takes
a first place in the pages of history. Search where
we will, we cannot find another to compare with
Washington. He was almost entirely without
blemish, and yet entirely human. As nearly
blameless as a man can be, he yet was indulgent
to the faults of others, generous to his enemies,
LAST DAYS AT MOUNT VERNON 191
devoted to his friends. Malignity was foreign to
him. Under persecution he sought no reprisal and
easily forgave. From his earliest boyhood to his
last day on earth, he was controlled in his thoughts
and in his actions by an imperative, unabatable,
and steadfast sense of honor and duty. His
conscience never slept, even in the smallest of his
transactions. Nothing which involved honor was
a trifle to him, nothing a trifle to him that was not
weighed by the standard of his responsibihty for it.
Before duty he invariably bowed his head, and
picked up without the faintest protest any task it
called for. In the lesser things as in the greater, he
never allowed himself to decide on their merits
until he had appraised them by the threefold meas-
ure of duty to himself, duty to his fellow-man, and
duty to God. Observe him from whatever angle
or position we may, he outshines the other great
characters of history, not by his abilities alone
but also by his flawless integrity. Had he Hved
in earlier days he would have been canonized as
a saint. His military valor was never selfish and
cruel, like Napoleon's or Marlborough's; his
statesmanship was unsoiled by the wiles of the
poHtician; his relationship with his family and
friends was full of deep and unchanging affection.
See his infinite variety ! Whatever he undertook
192 GEORGE WASHINGTON
he did well, whether it was the work of a farmer,
or that of a general, or that of the President of
the United States. Well may we feel thrills of
pride and gratitude when we say with Daniel
Webster, "Washington is our's," for Washington
is the chief ornament of our national history.
Printed in the United States of America.
'TpHE following pages contain advertisements of a
few of the Macmillan books on kindred subjects
TRUE STORIES OF GREAT
" Should be read by every boy and girl"
This important new series of brief and vivid biographies
will give to the young mind an intimate picture of the greatest
Americans who have helped to make American history. In
each instance the author has been chosen either because he is
particularly interested in the subject of the biography, or is
connected with him by blood ties and possessed, therefore, of
valuable facts. Only those, however, who have shown that
they have an appreciation of what makes really good juvenile
literature have been entrusted with a volume. In each case
they have written with a child's point of view in mind, those
events being emphasized which are calculated to appeal to the
younger reader, making a full and well-balanced narrative, yet
"Most admirable in their construction and purpose. The
volumes are interesting and attractive in appearance, graphic
in style, and wonderfully inspiring in subject matter, reaching
an enviable mark in juvenile literature." — Philadelphia Public
" Far away from the ' dry as dust ' type of biography."
— San Francisco Bulletin.
'' Simply and attractively told. . . . Especially interesting
to children.*" — Christian Advocate.
"An excellent series." — New York Sun.
See the following pages for descriptions of the individual books
of this series.
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New Tork
TRUE STORIES OF GREAT AMERICANS
New Illustrated Biographies for Young People
THOMAS A. EDISON By Francis Rolt=WheeIer
Thomas Alva Edison is the typical American. From boy-
hood to ripest manhood he has been keen to see an opportu-
nity, and quick to turn that opportunity to a practical use.
His genius is peculiar because it is so American. It is not as
a scientist that Edison is great, it is not even as an inventor,
it is as the master of the practical use of everything he touches
that he appears a giant mind of modern times.
ROBERT FULTON By Alice C. Sutcliffe
The life of Robert Fulton makes good reading. The story
of his belief in and work upon a submarine and his journeys
to France and England to lay his plans before the British
Government — his steamboat, and the years of study and labor
which went toward perfecting it — his paintings — his travels
in foreign lands in days when American travelers were few —
combine to make one of the most interesting and inspiring
books of the series.
" The story is full of interest, and the style fascinating.
Few of the 'heroes of peace' attract the youthful reader more
than the one chosen by this writer." — Christian Standard.
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN By E. Lawrence Dudley
As a statesman, diplomat, scientist, philosopher, and man of
letters, Benjamin Franklin was the foremost American of his
time. The story of his life is an inspiring and stimulating
narrative, with all the fascination and interest of Colonial and
Revolutionary America, Mr. Dudley has written a book that
will find favor with every right-minded boy or girl.
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York
TRUE STORIES OF GREAT AMERICANS
The Lives of National Heroes Told in a New Way
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS By Mildred Stapley
The story of the discovery of America has been told and
retold, but always on the same foundation of conjecture and
tradition. Mildred Stapley has consulted new and recently
discovered sources of contemporary information, and the his-
tory of Columbus' voyages is revised and corrected, though
the romance and excitement still glow through the record of
his achievements, and his fame as a daring navigator remains
an example of courage and unequalled valor.
CAPTAIN JOHN SMITH By Rossiter Johnson
The adventurous Captain who founded Virginia lived the
life of a typical hero of romance — Soldier of Fortune in
America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, pirate, slave, and friend of
princes. He was an able executive and a man of energy and
"The picturesque story is one of the bright spots in the
somewhat dreary early American history, and all children
should know it." — JVew York Sun. Illustrated. $.50
WILLIAM PENN By Rupert S. Holland
The life of William Penn is of especial interest and value
because the events of his career are closely related to American
and English history at a time when America was separating
herself from her parent country and shaping her destiny as an
independent Republic. Mr. Holland presents the great Amer-
ican as a man of noble character and a fearless champion of
liberty. Illustrated. $.50
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York
TRUE STORIES OF GREAT AMERICANS
New Illustrated Biographies for Young People
ROBERT E. LEE By Bradley Oilman
Robert E. Lee ranks with the greatest of all English-speaking military leaders.
Bradley Gilman has told the story of his life so as to reveal the greatness and
true personality of a man " who has left an enduring memory of the highest
" The story of Lee's life is sympathetically told and with a fine appreciation
of those traits in his character that have commanded universal respect."
— Review of Reviews.
DAVY CROCKETT By William C. Sprague
No fictitious tale of perils and adventures could surpass the true story of Davy
Crockett, pioneer. His life and adventures are closely bound up with the great-
est events of American history. He was an explorer, and scout in the Indian
wars, and first to open up much of the new territory beyond the Alleghanies; he
was killed fighting under the lone-star flag of Texas at the siege of the Alamo in
NATHAN HALE By Jean Christie Root
There is hardly another story in the whole range of American history which
contains so much of inspiration and splendid heroism as that oi Nathan Hale.
" There is more than the work of a gifted biographer here. There is a mes-
sage." — New York World.
GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER By F. S. Dillenbaugh
JOHN PAUL JONES By L. Frank Tooker
GEORGE WASHINGTON By W. H. Rideing
U. S. GRANT By F. E. Lovell Coombs
ABRAHAM LINCOLN By Daniel E. W heeler
LA SALLE By Louise S. Hasbrouck
DANIEL BOONE By Lucile GulUver
LAFAYETTE By Martha F. Crow
OTHER VOLUMES BEING PREPARED
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New Tork
J*. 'IS %
^ 'r 't'llU
4 0^ ♦,
u '.-^^^v;. ^v -^ -.japs*** -«■' v^ -y^^^* ^*
:*At %.** •*«• \/ .*^»-. *\
♦• -4?^ ^*.. •.
c^v v-^-->* \'-^-y
: '^^^o^ ;
^*^-^.\ *^w^* .-m*-, \/ .»*-•• -^^
BINDERY INC. I§
», JUN 89